A study of sepsis cases in 10 paediatric hospitals in Switzerland over five years has revealed that 32% of children diagnosed were healthy before they were brought to the hospital.
The results, which were published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Healthexternal link on July 20, also showed that newborns and those with another disease or condition were especially vulnerable (34% of the 1181 recorded cases for both).
The fatality rate resulting from sepsis, commonly referred to as “blood poisoning”, was 7%. And while few infections actually led to organ failure, those that did almost always resulted in the death of the child.
Four bacteria – Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci and Streptococcus pneumoniae – were responsible for the bulk of the infections. Authors pointed out that experience in other countries show that some of the infections in the study could have been avoided with greater precautions.
Sepsis is the leading cause of death in intensive care units of high-income countries. It is triggered by an infection that causes the immune system to function in overdrive and thus cause damage to tissues and organs.
Invasive medical procedures such as inserting a catheter into a blood vessel can introduce sepsis-triggering bacteria into the blood from the external environment.
swissinfo.ch and agencies