Pneumonia in children

What is pneumonia in children?

Pneumonia is inflammation or infection in one or both of the lungs, sometimes called a chest infection.

Your child may develop it after a cold or flu.

Most children can fight pneumonia but if their immune system is weak they’re at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia.

What causes it?

Pneumonia is caused by bacteria or by a virus. The most common bacterial cause is a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. The most common viral cause is usually respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or influenza type A or B.

Viruses are a common cause of pneumonia in young children.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you questions and examine your child. They will take their temperature and listen to their chest.

It can be difficult to separate the symptoms of bacterial and viral pneumonia in very young children.

NHS Choices has more information about pneumonia.

If you have urgent concerns or need advice quickly, call our helpline on 03000 030 050 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.