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Pneumonia-Causing Diseases Kill 1.2M Children Under 5 Annually, Studies Say

“Each year 1.2 million children under age 5 die from Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae B or Hib,” which cause pneumococcal disease and are preventable with vaccines, according to studies published Thursday in the journal Lancet, Reuters reports.

The studies “found an estimated 14.5 million cases of pneumococcal disease such as pneumonia and meningitis worldwide, most caused by S. pneumoniae, with 826,000 deaths among children under 5,” the news service writes. Though “[s]afe and effective vaccines exist for both,” use of “Hib vaccine has only recently expanded to low-income countries and pneumococcal vaccine is not included in national immunization programs in the developing world yet, the researchers said.”

Study leader Kate O’Brien, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said the findings “underscore the urgent need for prevention efforts throughout the developing world,” particularly “in Africa and Asia, which together account for 95 percent of all pneumococcal deaths” (Fox, 9/10).  

A related Lancet Comment on both diseases is available (Rudan/Campbell, 9/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.