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Tachypnoea is a good predictor of hypoxia in acutely ill infants under 2 months


OBJECTIVE To evaluate the respiratory rate as an indicator of hypoxia in infants < 2 months of age.

SETTING Pediatric emergency unit of an urban teaching hospital.

SUBJECTS 200 infants < 2 months, with symptom(s) of any acute illness.

METHODS Respiratory rate (by observation method), and oxygen saturation (SaO2) by means of a pulse oximeter were recorded at admission. Infants were categorised by presence or absence of hypoxia (SaO2⩽ 90%).

RESULTS The respiratory rate was ⩾ 50/min in 120 (60%), ⩾ 60/min in 101 (50.5%), and ⩾ 70/min in 58 (29%) infants. Hypoxia (SaO2 ⩽ 90%) was seen in 77 (38.5%) infants. Respiratory rate and SaO2 showed a significant negative correlation (r = −0.39). Respiratory rate ⩾ 60/min predicted hypoxia with 80% sensitivity and 68% specificity.

CONCLUSION These results indicates that a respiratory rate > 60/min is a good predictor of hypoxia in infants under 2 months of age brought to the emergency service of an urban hospital for any symptom(s) of acute illness.

  • tachypnoea
  • hypoxia
  • respiratory rate
  • oxygen saturation
  • acutely ill infants

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