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Acute respiratory distress syndrome in children with severe motor and intellectual disabilities

      Abstract

      We report 13 severely disabled children with acute respiratory distress syndrome, who were treated at the Department of Pediatrics, Niigata City General Hospital between 1995 and 2002. The children ranged in age from 1 year to 16 years. All were non-ambulant. Chronic aspiration and gastro-esophageal reflux were recognized in 12 patients. Patients had the rapid onset of dyspnea refractory to oxygen therapy. Diffuse bilateral lung infiltrates were present on chest X-ray. Predisposing events included sepsis (3 patients), pneumomia (7 patients), pancreatitis (1 patient) and two children with other infections. All required mechanical ventilation for periods of 3–26 days and received oxygen for 5–64 days. Steroid therapy and surfactant therapy were given to eight and three patients, respectively. Only one patient developed an air leak complication. Despite intensive care, three children died, one underwent tracheostomy and nine recovered completely. Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a commonly recognized cause of acute respiratory failure following a variety of insults. It is characterized by the acute onset of dyspnea refractory to oxygen therapy, and diffuse lung infiltrates. Children with severe motor and intellectual disabilities had various complications. In this study, chronic aspiration and gastro-esophageal reflux are considered to be one of predisposing factors triggering acute respiratory distress syndrome in children with severe motor and intellectual disabilities. Although acute respiratory distress syndrome was considered to be a not infrequent occurrence, its mortality rate might be low despite the severity of the disease in children with severe motor and intellectual disabilities. Acute respiratory distress syndrome can be a complication seen in severely disabled children.

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