In Summary
  • The report also notes that Preterm birth, intrapartum-related complications (birth asphyxia or lack of breathing at birth), and infections cause most neonatal deaths.
  • From the end of the neonatal period and through the first 5 years of life, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.

HEALTH. Children are fragile and so is their health. Breathing is key and requires attention, writes ZUURAH KARUNGI.

Do you know that you could solely be responsible for your child’s breathing complication? Medical experts note that some complications could be a result of what you take when you are pregnant such as alcohol, cigarettes or what you inhale, for example toxic gases.
The way the baby is handled right after birth is another reason as some are exposed to the cold or are not given much care that could subject them to infections which could cause bad breathing.

Signs of bad breathing
The heart, brain, lungs and respiratory muscles work hand in hand to promote good breathing, failure of any to perform well could lead to complications in breathing. The child will be out of breath and will struggle to respire.
They will breathe faster than normal and may wheeze, keeping their mouth open to regulate suffocation. This can also be seen on their rib cage movement when they breathe.
Causes
Prolonged labour
Eric Ligwale Tumwesiga, a physician, notes that when the delivery process is delayed, the child gets to tired. This could result in cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a condition where a child gets brain damage due to lack of enough oxygen supply. This condition could also affect vision and speech. He notes that this could sometimes lead to asphyxiation, where a child dies instantly due to suffocation.
Viral infections
Gerald Asaba, a doctor, notes that these are minor infections that affect the upper respiratory system and usually go away in five to 10 days. Though they can sometimes be severe and come with sore throat, vomiting and a fever. These can be treated with antibiotics.

Pneumonia
“Pneumonia affects the lower respiratory system that includes the bronchial tubes and lungs. It is an infection caused by bacteria whichblocks the airsacs in the lungs. It causes the airsacs to be filled with pus or fluids. The parent should immediately take the child to a doctor as it is more dangerous than an infection in the upper respiratory system,” Ligwale adds.

Exposure to harmful gases
Asaba says gas from fuel, charcoal stoves, and burnt polyethene bags when inhaled by pregnant women could damage a child’s respiratory system.

Use of alcohol and passive smoking
“When a pregnant or brestfeeding woman takes alcohol or smokes, the intoxicants are spread to the child and this could result in breathing complications among other issues,” Asaba explains.

Allergies
Lwigale notes that parents need to be alert about allergies as they may block the upper respiratory tract system (nose, mouth and throat) or sometimes may cause sores around the throat that could cause shortage of air.

Prevention
According to the UN report 2018, reduction of household air pollution where toxicants such as charcoal stoves and other harmful smokes should be regulated.
Ligwale explains that breast milk is the best medicine to improve a child’s health. Therefore, extensive breastfeeding is a great solution to treating breathing complications in children.
“Breastfeeding is the best therapy to good health in a child, it helps them develop, grow healthier, jolly, intelligent, and social. The greatest gift a mother can give to her child is to amply breastfeed them,” he adds.

Dr Julius Kusemererwa, says the child should be encouraged to drink plenty of water because it contains oxygen and an antibiotic should as well be administered as medication.
“Sometimes it is because the child’s nose is blocked and just needs cleaning,” Dr Kusemererwa explains.

UN report
According a UN report, up to 5.6 million children under the age of 5 years died in 2016. This translates into 15 000 under-five deaths per day.
It notes that the leading causes of death in children under-five years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria.

The report also notes that Preterm birth, intrapartum-related complications (birth asphyxia or lack of breathing at birth), and infections cause most neonatal deaths. From the end of the neonatal period and through the first 5 years of life, the main causes of death are pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.