BACKGROUND - Estimates of the disease burden from childhood pneumonia are available for most developed countries, but they are based mainly on models. Measured country-specific pneumonia burden data are limited to a few nations and differ in case definitions and case ascertainment methods. This review describes pneumonia disease burden in developed countries.
METHODS - We reviewed studies describing childhood pneumonia incidence in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Available estimates suggest that each year in developed countries there are up to 2.6 million cases of pneumonia, including 1.5 million hospitalized cases and around 3000 pneumonia deaths (compared with approximately 640 annual deaths from meningitis) in children <5 years of age.
RESULTS - Data to inform policy decisions would be improved by information on burden and etiology of severe pneumonia, population-based incidence of ambulatory visits and hospitalizations and prevalence of complications and sequelae.