Originally created 05/12/00

Childhood pneumonia deaths down 97 percent



When baby boomers' parents were growing up, it wasn't uncommon to see a friend die of pneumonia before age 15. But baby boomers' children are highly unlikely to die of the disease.

Pneumonia deaths among children dropped 97 percent between 1939 and 1996 -- from 24,637 two generations ago to 800, according to a report in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Widespread immunizations and government health care programs for poor children are probably major reasons, according to researchers at the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

The American Lung Association credits penicillin, which was discovered in 1928 but not available in quantity until 1944, with moving pneumonia out of the most common cause of death in the United States.

On the Net:

New England Journal of Medicine:
http://www.nejm.org/content/index.asp

National Center for Infectious Diseases:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/index.htm