Respiratory failure in children with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related complex

D. D. Vernon, B. H. Holzman, P. Lewis, G. B. Scott, J. A. Birriel, M. B. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Acute respiratory failure has a high mortality in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This study was undertaken to determine the etiology of acute respiratory failure and the outcome of children with AIDS and AIDS-related complex. Records of 31 children with AIDS or AIDS-related complex admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit for acute respiratory failure throughout a 46-month period were reviewed. Acute respiratory failure was due to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in 13, cytomegalovirus pneumonia in six, bacterial pneumonia in five, severe bacterial sepsis in four, Candida pneumonia in two, and a giant cell pneumonia in one patient. In addition, 11/19 patients with acute respiratory failure due to P carinii pneumonia or cytomegalovirus had superinfections with bacteria or Candida. Of the total of 19 primary and secondary bacterial infections, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was responsible in ten and Klebsiella pneumoniae in three children. Five children (16%) survived until pediatric intensive care unit discharge; three died within 6 months. The causes of acute respiratory failure were not significantly different in survivor and nonsurvivor groups. It is concluded that, in addition, to P carinii pneumonia and cytomegalovirus pneumonia, bacterial infections (especially due to Pseudomonas and other Gram-negative organisms) are important causes of respiratory failure. The high mortality and grim ultimate prognosis seen may have implications for pediatricians attempting to identify the proper limits of medical intervention for this group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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