Five Common and Deadly Childhood Diseases

Childhood is one of the most precarious phases or stages of human life. Indeed, children are quite susceptible to diseases, infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. If not properly treated, some of these diseases could lead to permanent scars, deformities and in worse cases, death. There are the five most common and deadly diseases suffered by children:


measlesAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children globally. It is an air-borne and highly contagious disease. It is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family that first infects the mucous membranes before spreading throughout the entire body.

Symptoms include fever, cough, red and watery eyes, running nose and small white spots inside the cheek. The most obvious sign of measles is the rash which initially appears on the face and upper neck before spreading to every part of the body.

Measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease. The most serious of these complications include brain swelling, severe diarrhoea, ear infections, blindness and pneumonia.

Children with insufficient vitamin A intake or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to measles. Unvaccinated children face the highest risk of measles and its complications. Children who recover from measles are immune to it forever.

There is no specific antiviral treatment for the measles virus, but it can be prevented through immunization and good nutritional practices.


Tuberculosis is a killer infectious disease caused by a bacteria that affects the lungs. Tuberculosis is also air-borne, but unlike measles, it is treatable, curable and preventable. It is particularly difficult to diagnose in children. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, chest pain and prolonged cough which produces sputum. Children suffering from other diseases such as HIV and diabetes mellitus face the increased risk of developing tuberculosis.


This disease is the single largest infectious cause of death of children under 5 years of age. It is a form of acute respiratory infection caused by either bacteria, fungi or viruses. Symptoms include cough, difficulty with breathing etc. Severely ill children may be unable to eat and may also experience hypothermia, convulsions and unconsciousness.

Pneumonia caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. It can be prevented with simple interventions and treated with low-cost medication and care.


Influenza is a viral infection affecting the respiratory system which includes the nose, throat, bronchi and sometimes, the lungs. The virus is transmitted via droplets and contact with secretions from carriers of the disease. Influenza spreads rapidly during epidemics. Symptoms include fever, headache, aching muscles, cough, sore throat etc. In children, infection can lead to severe complications and death.

Diabetes Mellitus

Type 1 diabetes, sometimes known as juvenile or childhood-onset diabetes, is a disease that occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce adequate insulin to regulate blood sugar. The cause of this disease is not known but genetics and environmental factors are highly suspected. Over time, diabetes can damage the kidneys, heart, nervous system, eyes and blood vessels, and leads to early death.

It is important to ensure that your kids are healthy, protected and less susceptible to these diseases through proper immunization and vaccination and by placing them on healthy diets.