Background: Population-based studies on childhood community-acquired pneumonia are scarce in Latin America. Pneumococcal epidemiology is poorly defined, hence the World Health Organization recommended standardized chest radiograph interpretation to improve the approach to bacterial pneumonia. Therefore, our study aimed to estimate the burden of pneumonia in hospitalized children.
Methods: A three-year surveillance study was carried out in four hospitals covering a population of 229,128 inhabitants of whom 10.2% were under five years of age. Clinical records and digitization of their chest radiographs were obtained. A pediatrician and a pediatric radiologist blinded to the clinical diagnosis interpreted the digital images.
Results: Of 2034 patients, 826 (40.6%) had consolidated pneumonia, 941 (46.3%) had non-consolidated pneumonia, and 267 (13.1%) had no pneumonia. Children under two years of age predominated (66.9%). The average annual incidence rate for consolidated pneumonia over the three-year study period was 1175/10(5). Eighteen invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae were isolated from patients with consolidated pneumonia and two from those with non-consolidated pneumonia. Respiratory syncytial virus was evenly distributed between both X-ray groups.
Conclusions: Patients younger than two years of age predominated, being the main targets for anti-pneumococcal conjugated vaccines. Incidence rates provided evidence of the burden of consolidated pneumonia for childhood, estimating the potential benefits of vaccination.