RVA Parenting: Common causes of pneumonia in children

The cause of pneumonia varies based on the age of the child.

“Most of the kids we see with pneumonia, especially the little kids six-months to about five-years-old typically have pneumonia caused by strep pneumoniae or pneumococcus. That's our most common bacteria that causes pneumonia even in older kids.” says Dr. Jeff Bennett, D.O., FAAP of KidMed."

School-aged kids, five-years-old and above, they can also get what parents know as walking pneumonia. Dr. Bennett says, “Walking pneumonia is typically caused by mycoplasma, which is a different kind of organism that can also cause pneumonia in kids. They typically will cause more of a diffused pneumonia.”

When you see the pattern on an x-ray, it's kind of more diffused, but it can also cause one lobe of lung to have pneumonia. It can look like the other kind of pneumonia, so a lot of times the treatment is based on community-acquired pneumonia. Which means, “the kids that are out in the community weren't in the hospital, and don't have any underlying problems. Typically, we want to use Amoxicillin for those kids, and we use much higher doses than we used to use for pneumonia,” says Dr. Bennett.

“Typically, we'll use 80-90 milligrams per kilogram based on their body weight. The kids will often times, get three times a day Amoxicillin. That, actually, has proven three times a day does better than the two times a day.”

“One study showed an increase in improvement up to 93% with three times a day versus only 67% with twice a day,” says Dr. Bennett. “I've gone to three times a day dosing with Amoxicillin, and all the practitioners here at KidMed have gone to mostly the three times a day dosing with Amoxicillin.”

Now, as the kids get older and they get atypical pneumonia and mycoplasma, we might use Amoxicillin, says Dr. Bennett. “Plus, we might even add Azithromycin or Zithromax ... or Azithromycin alone because that can cover both the pneumococcus and mycoplasma. Depending on the age of the child is how we treat.”

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