Treatment decisions in children with pneumonia are dictated based on the likely etiology of the infectious organism and the age and clinical status of the patient. Antibiotic administration must be targeted to the likely organism, bearing in mind the age of the patient, the history of exposure, the possibility of resistance (which may vary, depending on local resistance patterns), and other pertinent history (see Etiology and Clinical Presentation). After initiating therapy, the most important tasks are resolving the symptoms and clearing the infiltrate. With successful therapy, symptoms resolve much sooner that the infiltrate. In a study of adults with pneumococcal pneumonia, the infiltrate did not completely resolve in all patients until 8 weeks after therapy (although it was sooner in most patients). If therapy fails to elicit a response, the whole treatment approach must be reconsidered. The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the Infectious Diseases Society of America created evidence-based guidelines for the management of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in infants and children older than 3 months. These guidelines discuss site-of-care management, diagnosis, antimicrobial therapy, adjunctive surgical therapy, and prevention. While these guidelines do not represent the only approach to diagnosis and therapy, these recommendations may assist in decreasing morbidity and mortality rates in children with CAP. Hospitalization
Pulse oximetry should be performed during the prehospital evaluation of children with suspected pneumonia, and supplemental oxygen should be administered, if necessary; however, many school-aged children do not require hospitalization and respond well to oral antibiotics. Usually, these patients are not toxic or hypoxic enough to require supplemental oxygen. Unless they are vomiting, they do not require intravenous fluids or antibiotics. A parapneumonic effusion that requires drainage usually dictates a hospital admission. Children younger than 5 years are hospitalized more often, but their clinical status, degree of hydration, degree of hypoxia, and need for intravenous therapy dictate this decision. Hospitalization should be considered for infants who are younger than 2 months or premature because of the risk of apnea in this age group. Children who are toxic-appearing may require resuscitation and respiratory support. Treatment of critically ill children (those requiring ventilation) should include timely administration of appropriate antibiotics. Delays of only a few hours in one retrospective study were associated with significantly longer durations of ventilation, ICU stay, and total hospitalization. Chest radiography should be performed to identify the presence of an effusion/empyema (See Chest Radiography). Drainage of a restrictive or infected effusion or empyema may enhance clearance of the infection and improves lung mechanics. Antibiotic therapy should include vancomycin (particularly in areas where penicillin-resistant streptococci have been identified) and a second- or third-generation cephalosporin. Hemodynamic Support
RBCs should be administered to ensure a hemoglobin concentration of 13-16 g/dL in the acutely ill infant to ensure optimal oxygen delivery to the tissues. Delivery of adequate amounts of glucose and maintenance of thermoregulation, electrolyte balance, and other elements of neonatal supportive care are also essential aspects of clinical care. Respiratory Management
Initial priorities in children with pneumonia include the identification and treatment of respiratory distress, hypoxemia, and hypercarbia. Grunting, flaring, severe tachypnea, and retractions should prompt immediate respiratory support. Children who are in severe respiratory distress should undergo tracheal intubation if they are unable to maintain oxygenation or have decreasing levels of consciousness. (See Pharmacologic Therapy) Increased respiratory...