Childhood Respiratory Infections

A healthy respiratory system is essential for overall health and wellbeing.  Every tissue within the human body requires oxygen to function. 

The respiratory system consists of the nose, nasal passages, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs.  Its primary function is to supply the blood with oxygen in order for the blood to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body.  The respiratory system does this through breathing.  When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.  This exchange of gases is the respiratory system's means of getting oxygen to the blood.  In addition to air distribution and gas exchange, the respiratory system filters, warms, and humidifies the air we breathe. 

Organs in the respiratory system also play a role in speech and the sense of smell.  The respiratory system also helps the body maintain homeostasis, or balance among the many elements of the body’s internal environment.

Respiratory infections in children

Childhood respiratory infections cause a large burden of illness in New Zealand, with very high rates of admission to hospital when compared with other developed countries.  For some children, severe or repeated respiratory infections lead to permanent lung damage resulting in a life time of ill health and disability, and likely a premature death. 

Both Lakes and Bay of Plenty District Health Boards have a higher rate of hospital admission for children with respiratory infections than the New Zealand national rate.

Reducing childhood respiratory infections in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes

One of Toi Te Ora’s goals is to reduce childhood admissions to hospital from respiratory infections by two thirds in five years from 2013.

Undertaking an analysis of the hospitalisation rates and completing a health needs assessment is the first step to achieve this goal. These documents can be viewed below:

Other respiratory infections documents, reports and information:

Looking after children’s respiratory health