Pediatric Respiratory Failure Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Dec 05, 2022
  • Author: Shelley C Springer, JD, MD, MSc, MBA, FAAP; Chief Editor: Dale W Steele, MD, MS  more...
  • Print

Diagnostic Considerations

In addition to the conditions listed in Differentials (below), the following are also common causes of respiratory failure in children:

  • Asthma or reactive airway disease

  • Bacterial or viral infection

  • Bronchiolitis or pneumonia

  • Near drowning

  • Toxic ingestion or inhalation

  • Trauma (eg, chest injuries)

Other, less common, problems to be considered in the differential diagnosis of pediatric respiratory failure include the following:

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome

  • Ludwig angina

  • Neuromuscular disorders (eg, Duchenne muscular dystrophy or spinal muscular atrophy [SMA] type 1)

  • Pulmonary embolus

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Tracheal foreign bodies

  • Transverse myelitis, cervical or high thoracic

  • Vascular slings

Differential Diagnoses