Sepsis in Children

Sepsis is a rare condition that is thought to affect approximately 10,000 children per year in the UK. It is a leading cause of infant mortality worldwide and requires urgent attention if a child is to make a full recovery. Toddlers and babies are particularly vulnerable to this infection. Unfortunately, if sepsis goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

What causes sepsis in children?

Sepsis is caused by an infection in another part of the child’s body. This can be a wide range of infections such as infected wounds, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and appendicitis amongst others. When a child’s immune system is weak, such as when they are already ill, the infection may spread causing the immune system to over-react, which can lead to tissue damage and restricted blood flow, eventually leading to organ failure.

What are the symptoms of sepsis in children under 5?

The NHS advises that it is a medical emergency if your child exhibits any of the following sepsis signs:

  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch
  • is breathing very fast
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion

Generally, if your child exhibits the following, they may be warning signs of sepsis:

  • high temperature
  • difficulty breathing
  • lethargy
  • has not had a wee for 12 hours
  • no interest in drinking or feeding

What are the symptoms of sepsis in children over 5?

Early signs of sepsis in older children may include:

  • a high temperature (fever) or low body temperature
  • chills and shivering
  • a fast heartbeat
  • fast breathing

These might develop further to include signs of blood poisoning such as:

  • dizziness
  • confusion or disorientation
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe breathlessness
  • less urine production than normal
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • loss of consciousness

If your child exhibits these symptoms, you must get medical attention urgently.

What treatment is necessary for sepsis in children?

It is important to understand that sepsis is a very fast-developing illness and medical attention should be sought urgently. The patient should be treated with antibiotics immediately to aid recovery even whilst testing is continuing. If treated promptly, your child can expect to make a full recovery. However, if undiagnosed or mistreated, the consequences of sepsis in children can be devastating or fatal.

Medical Negligence

If you feel your child has been the victim of medical negligence regarding their sepsis, contact us today to discuss your case with a solicitor.

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