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Children and pneumonia: the danger signs

In a recent teleconference, organized by the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia, two experts in pneumonia research and prevention talked about how risky pneumonia is for children in the United States – and throughout the world.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under 5; every 20 seconds a child somewhere in the world dies of it.

Symptoms can escalate quickly. Some danger signs:

• A child is working so hard to breathe that he or she can’t nurse or sip a bottle.

• A child has an apprehensive expression while trying to breathe.

• A child has a cold and then develops a high fever on top of it.

• A child who is blue around the lips.

• A child who is breathing very fast.

• A child whose chest is moving in a way that indicates it’s extremely difficult to breathe.

The researchers also expressed frustration with parents in the United States who resist pneumonia vaccinations for their children. It’s a different story in other countries.

Dr. Orin Levine with the International Vaccine Access Center said: “Every time we go to Africa to film a documentary about pneumonia, we say, ‘Is there a child in this hospital with pneumonia?’

“They show us a child and every time, there is a kid that dies. When we go to those communities and say there’s a new lifesaving pneumonia vaccine, we don’t get the pushback about the adverse reactions. We get 6,000 people in the football stadium wanting the vaccines.”

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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