Clinical predictors of hypoxemia in children with WHO classified pneumonia

Meenakshi S. Kushwah, Yogendra S. Verma, Ajay Gaur


Background: In developing countries were health providers have to rely on signs and symptoms to identify hypoxemia in pneumonia and start oxygen therapy, this study was therefore conducted to assess the prevalence and predictors of hypoxemia with the hypothesis to design a severity score for hypoxemia in children with pneumonia.

Methods: This prospective observational study was carried out at the paediatric emergency department of Gajra Raja Medical College, Gwalior, on children of age 1-60 months admitted with respiratory illness categorised on basis of “Revised WHO Classification of Pneumonia”. Various demographic and clinical features were noted. Oxygen saturation was measured via a pulse oximeter. Hypoxemia was defined as SpO2 <90%. Statistical analysis was done.

Results: Of the 200 children studied, 67 (33.5%) had hypoxemia. Fever, breathing difficulty, and crepitations were the most sensitive, while inability to feed, cyanosis, grunting, head nodding and impaired consciousness were the most specific indicators for hypoxemia. Fever, lethargy, inability to feed, nasal flaring, grunting, impaired consciousness and cyanosis were found significant (p value<0.05). Combinations of tachypnea with nasal flaring, grunting, cyanosis, and retractions with grunting were also found significant in predicting hypoxemia. Combinations of tachypnea with grunting (90.2%) and cyanosis (94.7%) were found highly specific.  Using these combinations, a new hypoxemia scoring system was designed to predict the severity of hypoxemia.

Conclusions: Study suggested that combination of clinical signs may be utilized as markers for hypoxemia in conditions where pulse-oximeter is not available.


Hypoxemia, Hypoxemic score, Pulse oximetry, Pneumonia

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