Being Aware of Sepsis in Children
‘It is vital all parents and carers learn to recognise the symptoms
in order to get medical help quickly’
What is Sepsis?
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition. It occurs when the body’s immune system misfires and incorrectly reacts to an infection and begins to attack its own organs and tissues. Sepsis can be due to a large variety of different bacteria’s which we can into contact with during normal daily life and do not usually cause a problem. However sometime the body will react abnormally, and a person will develop sepsis.
How do I spot that It is happening?
It can be difficult to diagnose. A baby or child can go from showing mild symptoms to becoming very seriously unwell very quickly.
- blue tinge to the lips or tongue, pale or blotchy skin
- the hands and feet may be very cold to the touch
- a baby or child not responding normally
- A baby or child not wanting to play or feed/eat
- signs of difficulty breathing for example; breathing faster than normal and shallow, stomach sucking in under the ribcage, flaring of nostrils, struggling to get their breath or grunting
- in babies, a weak high-pitched cry
- being very tired and wanting to sleep more than usual
- being more difficult to wake up than normal
- having less wet nappies or going to the toilet less
- becoming confused
- slurred speech
- a rash which does not fade when you press it
Babies and children may not present with all the symptoms above
Are children more at risk of getting Sepsis?
Young children are at a higher risk of developing sepsis then adults, and babies under a year are especially at risk.
Can any infection lead to sepsis?
Yes, any infection has the potential to cause sepsis, some of the common infections that can lead to sepsis are pneumonia, urinary tract infects, any infection in the abdomen and skin, soft tissue, or bones and joints.
We do not fully understand while adults and children who are previous healthy develop sepsis from a minor infection their does seem to be an increased risk after a viral infection such as a cold.
Can a person catch Sepsis from another person?
Do any other groups have an increased risk?
People with diabetes or with a weakened immune system, people recovering from surgery or who have had a serious illness.
In all cases of illness if you see the following signs, call your Doctor or 111
- a child feeling very unwell
- not having passed urine in the last 12 hours
- continuous vomiting
- swelling or redness or pain around a cut or wound
- a high temperature or shivering
If in doubt always call 999 or go to A&E, tell the staff you are concerned about Sepsis
Jill Wheatcroft MSc, BSc Community Children’s Nursing, RSCN, Post Grad Dip Academic Practice, First Aid Instructor, A1 Assessor has extensive experience as a Paediatric Nursing Sister and Lecturer in Child Health at City University. Her depth of knowledge of childcare in home, community and hospital settings enables her to support others working in the childcare sector, as well as providing sound well thought out advice and support for families, underpinned by her extensive knowledge. Jill, co-founder of Riverside Cares, established in 1989, has always been passionate about ensuring children’s safety and well being.