Risk Factors

woman using an inhaler

Adults with asthma are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease. Other chronic lung conditions that increase someone’s risk include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.

Conditions that increase the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease include:

  • Decreased immune function from disease or drugs
  • Functional or anatomic asplenia
  • Chronic heart, lung (including asthma), liver, or renal disease
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
  • Cochlear implant

Children with HIV infection or functional or anatomic asplenia, particularly sickle cell disease, are at high risk for invasive disease. Some studies report rates more than 50 times higher than those among children of the same age without these conditions.

Experts do not know why, but children of certain racial and ethnic groups also have increased rates of disease:

  • Alaska Natives
  • African Americans
  • Certain American Indian groups

Research shows that young children attending childcare are at increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease and acute otitis media.

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Page last reviewed: September 1, 2020