Risk factors for acute respiratory infections in children under five years attending the Bamenda Regional Hospital in Cameroon
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BACKGROUND: Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in under-five children worldwide. About 6.6 million children less than 5 years of age die every year in the world; 95% of them in low-income countries and one third of the total deaths is due to ARI. This study aimed at determining the proportion of acute respiratory infections and the associated risk factors in children under 5 years visiting the Bamenda Regional Hospital in Cameroon. METHODS: A cross-sectional analytic study involving 512 children under 5 years was carried out from December 2014 to February 2015. Participants were enrolled by a consecutive convenient sampling method. A structured questionnaire was used to collect clinical, socio-demographic and environmental data. Diagnosis of ARI was based on the revised WHO guidelines for diagnosing and management of childhood pneumonia. The data was analyzed using the statistical software EpiInfo™ version 7. RESULTS: The proportion of ARIs was 54.7% (280/512), while that of pneumonia was 22.3% (112/512). Risk factors associated with ARI were: HIV infection ORadj 2.76[1.05-7.25], poor maternal education (None or primary only) ORadj 2.80 [1.85-4.35], exposure to wood smoke ORadj 1.85 [1.22-2.78], passive smoking ORadj 3.58 [1.45-8.84] and contact with someone who has cough ORadj 3.37 [2.21-5.14]. Age, gender, immunization status, breastfeeding, nutritional status, fathers' education, parents' age, school attendance and overcrowding were not significantly associated with ARI. CONCLUSION: The proportion of ARI is high and is associated with HIV infection, poor maternal education, exposure to wood smoke, passive cigarette smoking, and contact with persons having a cough. Control programs should focus on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ARIs.
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