Defining pneumonia in critically ill infants and children

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2005 May;6(3 Suppl):S9-S13. doi: 10.1097/01.PCC.0000161932.73262.D7.


Objective: To define pneumonia in critically ill children in the intensive care unit setting for surveillance of infection and for the design, conduct, and evaluation of clinical trials in the prevention and therapy of lower respiratory tract infections in this population.

Design: Summary of the literature with review and consensus by experts in the field.

Results: A variety of diagnostic criteria from the medical literature, professional societies, and governmental health agencies and regulators were identified. Very few of these diagnostic criteria have been validated for use in children. We propose definitions for definite, possible, and probable pneumonia that build on identified definitions in the literature and use combinations of symptoms, signs, and laboratory criteria. Gaps in knowledge were identified.

Conclusions: Although pneumonia is one of the most common diagnoses in critically ill children, there have been few studies validating diagnostic criteria. Definitions for definite, probable, and possible community-acquired pneumonia and nosocomial pneumonia were achieved by consensus of experts based on guidelines from governmental agencies, professional organizations, and published literature. Future research should determine the utility of these definitions in the critically ill child and adapt them accordingly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Critical Illness
  • Cross Infection / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / classification*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / etiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / classification*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / etiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects