Sepsis is a serious medical condition caused by an immune system response to a severe infection of the bloodstream. It is often found in children with weakened or underdeveloped immune systems and in babies less than 3 months old, but it can happen in any child.
When bacteria get into your child’s bloodstream, the immune system responds to try to control the spread of bacteria. Sepsis occurs when the immune system overreacts to the infection and attacks the body’s organs, such as the kidneys, brain or lungs.
Sepsis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection that may come from a simple elbow scrape or a serious medical illness. If left untreated, it can become a life-threatening condition.
Symptoms of sepsis in infants and children may include:
If your child has a bloodstream infection from a cut or other skin injury, symptoms may include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
A complication of sepsis is septic shock, a serious drop in blood pressure. Toxins released by the bacteria in the bloodstream can cause extremely low blood flow and organ or tissue damage. Septic shock is a medical emergency.
To prevent sepsis, keep your child’s vaccinations up to date, carefully clean cuts or sores and watch for early signs of infection.
Pediatric infectious disease specialists at Riley at IU Health perform a complete medical examination and may order one or more of the following tests to diagnose sepsis:
Most children with sepsis are hospitalized for treatment that includes:
Visit the websites below to learn more about sepsis.
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