Evaluating the child with recurrent lower respiratory tract infections

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2012 Sep;13(3):135-8. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2011.02.005. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


We review the limited available evidence on underlying causes of recurrent pneumonia in children, supplemented by our own clinical experience. Diagnosing recurrent pneumonia in children is difficult. Diagnostic confusion is possible with recurrent upper respiratory tract infections and asthma. In our series of children with recurrent pneumonia, we never identified asthma as an underlying cause. Because the frequency or severity of recurrent pneumonia does not always justify additional invasive investigations, the diagnostic work-up may be incomplete in a number of cases. This may help to explain why an underlying cause for recurrent pneumonia cannot be found in approximately 30% of cases. Finally, the paradigm that recurrent pneumonia in the same lung lobe has a differential diagnosis different from those recurring in multiple lobes was not borne out in our case series. A stepwise and pragmatic approach to evaluating children with recurrent lower respiratory tract infections is recommended.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis*
  • Recurrence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*