Acute respiratory infections in children: a community-based longitudinal study in rural Bangladesh

J Trop Pediatr. 1997 Jun;43(3):133-7. doi: 10.1093/tropej/43.3.133.


A community-based logitudinal study conducted in Matlab, a rural area in Bangladesh, investigated acute respiratory infections (ARI) among children. A cohort of 696 children under 5 years of age was followed for 1 year yielding 183,865 child-days of observation. Trained field workers visited the study children every fourth day. Data on symptoms suggesting ARI, such as fever, cough, and nasal discharge, were collected for the preceding 3 days by recall. To determine the type and severity of ARI, the field workers conducted physical examinations (temperature, rate of respiration, and chest indrawing) of children reporting cough and/or fever. The overall incidence of ARI was 5.5 episodes per child-year observed; the prevalence was 35.4 per hundred days observed. Most of the episodes (96 per cent) were upper respiratory infections (URI). The incidence of acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) was 0.23 per child per year. The incidence of URI was highest in 18-23-month-old children, followed by infants 6-11 months old. The highest incidence of ALRI was observed in 0-5-month-old infants followed by 12-17-month-old children. Among 559 children who were followed for 6 months or longer, about 9 per cent did not suffer any URI episode and about 16 per cent suffered one or more ALRI episodes. About 46 per cent of URI and 65 per cent of ALRI episodes lasted 15 days or more. The incidence rates of URI were higher during the monsoon and pre-winter periods, and that of ALRI at the end of the monsoon and during the pre-winter periods. Sociodemographic variables were not associated with the incidence of URI or ALRI. The study documents ARI to be a major cause of morbidity among rural Bangladeshi children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Rural Population*
  • Seasons
  • Severity of Illness Index