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Discussing the attention pediatric pneumonia has received amid rising cases

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Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, explains that the recent uptick in pediatric pneumonia cases across the country, which some have called "white lung syndrome," is nothing new, and there is no cause for panic.

Pediatric pneumonia cases have been on the rise in multiple parts of the country, generating attention on the national level in recent weeks, in some cases being referred to as "white lung syndrome."

In this Contemporary Pediatrics interview, Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, editor in chief, Contemporary Pediatrics, professor of pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, pediatric infectious diseases attending, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, explains pediatric pneumonia is nothing new.

Interview transcript (edited for clarity):

Contemporary Pediatrics:

Can you comment on the rising pediatric pneumonia cases throughout the country and the headlines that have been associated with these cases?

Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS:

So "white lung syndrome" is not a medical term, it is not a new syndrome. It is just something that I think the media just picked up on and is just making up a name for pneumonia. So we know that with the amount of viruses that continue to circulate, and the bacteria which are now coming back, anytime you have a severe viral illness, or if you have a bacterial pneumonia on X-ray, you can see some whiteness of the lung. I think what happened is that coming out of the pandemic, and with more people being exposed to other people, and contracting these different viruses, they're presenting to a health care provider who may not in the past have done a chest X-ray. But now they're doing a chest X-ray, and they're saying, "oh my gosh, they have pneumonia." So this is not anything that's new and people really should treat their patients that they have that present that way, in the same manner that they would have treated them prior to the pandemic.

Contemporary Pediatrics:

How can pediatricians reassure parents who might be concerned, especially given the traction this pneumonia has gained in the media?

Tan:

This is not a new syndrome. It's not a new finding. We know that viruses and bacteria can cause, on chest X-ray, some whiteness of the lung, and that is nothing to worry about. I it's viral, it will go away by itself. If it's bacterial, you'll get antibiotics and get it treated and it'll go away and heal and everything will go back to normal. So this is not something new, not something to panic over and not something to worry about. Just remember to keep your vaccinations up to date for all your patients. Now that we are in the midst of RSV, COVID and influenza season, please vaccinate your patients that are eligible with all those vaccines.

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