According to researchers and authors from Harvard Medical School, children at high altitude are at increased risk of severe disease and anemia than children raised at lower altitudes. The study was published in the October 7, 2013 edition of Pediatrics online.

Researchers used data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) and USAID as part of the Severe Pneumonia Evaluation Antimicrobial Research (SPEAR) study. The information was originally collected for a medication trial involving more than 950 children, but information collected prior to medication administration was used. Children were classified as high altitude if they lived above 2,000 meters or low altitude if they lived below 2,000 meters. All children participating in the study were diagnosed with pneumonia.

Conclusion: High-altitude children were more likely to have cyanosis and low blood oxygen saturation than low-altitude children. When all contributing factors were taken into consideration, high-altitude children with anemia were less likely to respond to treatment, but the same could not be said for low-altitude children. 

Source: Moschovis PP, Banajeh S, Macleod WB, Saha S, Hayden D, Christiani DC, Mino G, Santosham M, Thea DM, Qazi S, Hibberd PL. Childhood Anemia at High Altitude: Risk Factors for Poor Outcomes in Severe Pneumonia. Pediatrics. 2013 Oct 7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-0761.

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