Purpose of review: Severely injured children have a decreased incidence and different pattern of multiple organ failure when compared with adults. This article reviews recent advances in understanding the mechanisms leading to this discrepancy.
Recent findings: Post injury, inflammation-related outcomes are age-related, as demonstrated by epidemiological and laboratory investigations that confirm a relative protection from acute lung injury and multiple organ failure in children. The importance of the innate immune system in initiating and regulating the inflammatory response to injury is also increasingly well understood, but relatively little research has focused on the implications of a maturing innate immune system for the inflammatory response to injury in children. The development of age-appropriate immunomodulatory interventions for the prevention and treatment of postinjury inflammatory dysregulation depends on continued investigation of mechanisms responsible for the unique pediatric inflammatory response to trauma.
Summary: The inflammatory response to injury in children is functionally and mechanistically unique, as suggested by age-related differences in the incidence and pattern of systemic inflammation and multiple organ failure after major trauma. We review the current clinical and basic science literature related to postinjury inflammation in childhood, focusing on the developmental biology of innate immunity and the implications of a maturing immune system for trauma-related interventions and outcomes.