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:
- Childhood respiratory infections in the Lakes and Bay of Plenty regions health needs assessment, May 2015
- Childhood admissions to hospital for respiratory infections, update report 2017
- Childhood admissions to hospital for respiratory infections 2008-2012
- Medical Officer of Health report, July 2015
Other respiratory infections documents, reports and information:
- Te Ha Ora: The Breath of Life - National Respiratory Strategy - The Asthma Foundation
- Publications from the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand
- Infographic: Respiratory disease in New Zealand - Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand
- Infographic: Better breathing: Checklist for healthy lungs - Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand
- Health conditions related to cold damp houses - Envrironmental Health Indicators New Zealand
- MedTalk Series: Respiratory Infections in Children - Goodfellow Unit