Prevalence of hypoxaemia and its associated factors in children with pneumonia seen at a tertiary hospital in Southeast Nigeria


  • Kenneth Onyebuchi Ogaziechi Department of Paediatrics, Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria
  • Christian Chukwukere Ogoke Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and Child Neurology, Mother Healthcare Diagnostics and Hospital, Owerri, Nigeria
  • John Onuora Chukwuka Department of Paediatrics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria
  • Emeka C. Nwolisa Department of Paediatrics, Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria
  • Kingsley I. Achigbu Department of Paediatrics, Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria



Childhood pneumonia, Hypoxaemia, Predictors, Pulse oximetry


Background: Hypoxaemia is a common complication and a significant predictor of death from pneumonia in children under five years of age. Knowledge of the prevalence of hypoxaemia and clinical signs associated with it may guide use of oxygen in the management of childhood pneumonia in resource-poor settings. This study was carried out to determine the prevalence of hypoxaemia in children with pneumonia and assess the relation between hypoxaemia and age, duration of illness and clinical signs.

Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study undertaken between 1st July 2016 and 27th April 2017. Children with pneumonia, aged 2-59 months, who attended Federal Medical Centre, Owerri and met the inclusion criteria, were recruited into the study. Subject evaluation included history and physical examination. Their blood oxygen saturation was determined by pulse oximetry and value less than 90% indicated hypoxaemia.

Results: Out of the 144 children with pneumonia, 93(64.6%) were males and 51(35.4%) females giving a male to female ratio of 1.8:1. Median age was 8 months and mean weight (SD) was 8.6 kg (3.6). The overall prevalence of hypoxaemia was 17.4%. Hypoxaemia prevalence was significantly higher in infants (p=0.026) and severe pneumonia (p<0.0001). There was statistically significant association between hypoxaemia and lower chest in-drawing, nasal flaring, suprasternal recession, grunting, lethargy, tachypnoea and tachycardia. With adjustment for confounding variables, only lower chest in-drawing (OR: 9.672; p=0.004), lethargy (OR: 8.103; p=0.020) and grunting (OR: 4.960; p=0.050) predicted hypoxaemia in pneumonia. Each of these signs had a poor combination of sensitivity and specificity.

Conclusions: Hypoxaemia is common in childhood pneumonia. Though some clinical signs are significantly associated with hypoxaemia in childhood pneumonia, they may be unreliable in predicting hypoxaemia. Therefore, pulse oximeters should be provided in every health facility for accurate detection of hypoxaemia.


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