Pneumonia (peds)

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  • Most common site of infection in neonates
  • Fever and tachypnea are Sensitive but not Specific


Neonatal Pneumonia

Etiology Clinical Presentation Management Approach


[group BStreptococcus (most common),Escherichia coliListeria monocytogenesHaemophilus influenzae B, S. pneumoniae,Klebsiella species, Enterobacter aerogenes

Fulminant illness w/ onset w/in 48hr of life, w/ infection likely acquired in utero from contaminated amniotic fluid environment. Full evaluation for sepsis (blood and urine cultures, chest radiographs, and complete blood count). The blood culture results are typically negative. Two culture samples may increase diagnostic yield fourfold.
Respiratory distress, unstable temperature (high or low), irritability or lethargy, tachycardia and poor feeding may be present. A lumbar puncture should be done if there are no contraindications.
Hospitalization, supportive care (O2), and parenteral antibiotics (ampicillin and gentamicin, adjusts as per culture and sensitivities when available).
Nosocomial infections in premature infants (Staphylococcus aureus,Pseudomonas aeruginosa Same as for common bacterial etiology. Same as for common bacterial etiology.
Chlamydia  Develops in 3%–16% of exposed neonates (in colonized mothers). Sepsis evaluation as indicated.
CXR may show hyperinflation with interstitial infiltrates.
Usually occurs after 3 wk of age, accompanied by conjunctivitis in one half of cases. Often afebrile, tachypneic, with prominent "staccato" cough. Wheezing uncommon. Definitive diagnosis by nasopharyngeal swab PCR or cultures.
Eosinophilia may be seen on peripheral blood count.
Treatment: macrolide (erythromycin, clarithromycin, or azithromycin).

Bordetella pertussis

In addition to pneumonia, may causes paroxysms of cough, ± cyanosis and post-tussive emesis in otherwise well-looking infant. Characteristic whoop is not present in neonates. Apnea may be the only symptom. Suspect when adult caregiver also has persistent cough. Sepsis evaluation as indicated.
Diagnosis via nasopharyngeal swab for PCR and/or culture.
Lymphocytosis in peripheral blood count is nonspecific but supports the diagnosis.
Macrolides are efficient against B. pertussis but is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for infants <6 mo.
No available data on efficacy of azithromycin or clarithromycin in infants <1 mo old, but case series show less adverse effects with azithromycin.
Neonates need to be admitted during treatment and monitored for severe adverse effects.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Half of infants born to actively infected mothers develop TB if not immunized or treated. Sepsis evaluation as for bacterial pneumonia.
CXR, culture of urine, gastric and tracheal aspirates.
May be acquired via transplacental means, aspiration/ingestion of infected amniotic fluid, or postnatal airborne transmission. Skin testing not sensitive in neonates.
Routine anti-TB treatment.
Supportive treatment as needed.
Often presents with nonspecific systemic symptoms with multi-organ involvement (fever, failure to thrive, respiratory distress, organomegaly).
Viral pneumonia (respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, human metapneumovirus, influenza, parainfluenza) Initial upper respiratory illness progressing to respiratory distress and feeding difficulty. Sepsis evaluation as indicated.
Viral testing (direct antigen detection/PCR/cultures) of nasopharyngeal washings (swab).
Hypoxia and apnea may be present.
Often indistinguishable from bronchiolitis. Rate of concurrent bacterial infections in confirmed viral infection is low.
CXR for significant respiratory distress.
Supportive therapy; monitoring for apnea in young and premature infants.

Infants and Children

  • More likely to have viral cause
    • Consider secondary bacterial pneumonia if URI progresses to lower tract symptoms
      • Pneumococus, H. flu, staph, pertussis
    • If age >5 consider mycoplasma (treat w/ macrolide)


  • Absence of tachypnea, resp distress, and rales/decr BS rules-out with 100% sp
    • Productive cough is rarely seen before late childhood
  • Imaging
    • CXR is not the gold standard!
    • Cannot differentiate between viral and bact (but lobar infiltrate more often bacterial)
    • Consider for:
      • Age 0-3mo (part of w/u for sepsis)
      • <5yr w/ temp >102.2, WBC >20K and no clear source of infection
      • Ambiguous clinical findings
      • PNA that is prolonged or not responsive to abx
  • Consider rapid assays for RSV, influenza
  • Blood/nasal culture are low yield


  • Recommendations from AAP[1]
Age Group Bacterial Pathogens Hospitalized Patients Outpatients
Newborn Group B streptococci Ampicillin Initial outpatient management not recommended
Gram-negative bacilli plus 
Listeria monocytogenes  Gentamicin or cefotaxime
1–3 mo Streptococcus pneumoniae  Afebrile pneumonitis Initial outpatient management not recommended
Chlamydia trachomatis    Erythromycin or clarithromycin
Haemophilus influenzae  Febrile pneumonia:
Bordetella pertussis    Cefuroxime
Staphylococcus aureus    ± erythromycin IV or clarithromycin PO
  Severe: choose one of
    Cefuroxime + erythromycin or clarithromycin
    Cefotaxime + erythromycin
    Cloxacillin + clarithromycin

3 mo–5 y

(majority of PNA

in this group is


S. pneumoniae  Ampicillin IV or cefuroxime IV Amoxicillin
S. aureus  or amoxicillin if PO or amoxicillin-clavulanate
H. influenzae type b
or amoxicillin-clavulanate if PO or cefuroxime axetil x7-10d
Nontypeable H. influenzae  Moderate to severe  
C. trachomatis    Add erythromycin or clarithromycin  
Mycoplasma pneumoniae     
5–18 y M. pneumoniae  Ampicillin IV Erythromycinor clarithromycin
S. pneumoniae  plus  or amoxicillin ± clavulanate
C. pneumoniae  Erythromycin or clarithromycin or cefuroxime axetil x7-10d
H. influenzae type b
S. aureus    Cefuroxime
    or amoxicillin-clavulanate
    or erythromycin  
    or clarithromycin  
  Moderate to severe:  
    Cefuroxime + erythromycin or clarithromycin  
  • All Children less than 2 months should be hospitalized[1]
  • High dose amoxicillin (80-90mg/kg/day) is the first-line antibiotic of choice for uncomplicated outpatient community acquired pneumonia[1]
  • For Inpatient treatment of pneumonia preference is to Vancomycin along with a second- or third- generation Cephalosporins.[1]


  • Consider admission for:
    • Age of birth to 3mo
    • History of severe or relevant congenital disorders
    • Immune suppression (HIV, SCD, malignancy)
    • Toxic appearance/resp distress
    • SpO2 <90-93%


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 AAP. Management of Communty-Acquired Pneumonia in Infants and Children Older than 3 Months of Age. Pediatrics. Vol 128 No 6 December 1, 2011.