- There are new publications on children rights available for download on our site.
Last update of site:
Recognising ‘danger signs’ in new-born and childhood illnesses (0-5 years old)
Coughs, colds, sore throats and runny noses are common in the lives of children. Usually they are no cause for alarm. In some cases, however, coughs are danger signs of more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. Pneumonia is the world’s leading cause of death in girls and boys under age five, closely followed by diarrhoea. Around two million children die from pneumonia every year. Pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. One out of every five deaths of children under age five is caused by this respiratory infection.
All girls and boys have the right to quality healthcare, to make sure that respiratory infections and other illnesses are accurately diagnosed and treated before it is too late.
Key facts each parent/caregiver should know about ‘danger signs’ in newborn and childhood illnesses:
- Sometimes, coughs are signs of a serious problem. A child who is breathing rapidly or with difficulty might have pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. This is a life-threatening disease. The child needs immediate treatment from a trained health worker, who can also provide a referral to a health facility;
- Families can help prevent pneumonia by making sure babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that all children are well nourished and fully immunised;
- A child who has a prolonged cough that persists for more than three weeks needs immediate medical attention. The child may have tuberculosis, an infection in the lungs;
- Parents or other caregivers should immediately seek medical attention if the new-born or a young child has one or several of the following conditions: weakness, high fever, change of the skin color into yellow, blue or pale, sunken eyes, inability to eat, vomiting or abdominal distention, convulsions, discharge or swelling of the eyelids, diarrhoea and blood-tinged stool.