Background: Sepsis is one of the main reasons for non-elective admission to pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), but little is known about determinants influencing outcome. We characterized children admitted with community-acquired sepsis to European PICUs and studied risk factors for mortality and disability.
Methods: Data were collected within the collaborative Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)-funded EUCLIDS study, which is a prospective multicenter cohort study aiming to evaluate genetic determinants of susceptibility and/or severity in sepsis. This report includes 795 children admitted with community-acquired sepsis to 52 PICUs from seven European countries between July 2012 and January 2016. The primary outcome measure was in-hospital death. Secondary outcome measures were PICU-free days censured at day 28, hospital length of stay, and disability. Independent predictors were identified by multivariate regression analysis.
Results: Patients most commonly presented clinically with sepsis without a source (n = 278, 35%), meningitis/encephalitis (n = 182, 23%), or pneumonia (n = 149, 19%). Of 428 (54%) patients with confirmed bacterial infection, Neisseria meningitidis (n = 131, 31%) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (n = 78, 18%) were the main pathogens. Mortality was 6% (51/795), increasing to 10% in the presence of septic shock (45/466). Of the survivors, 31% were discharged with disability, including 24% of previously healthy children who survived with disability. Mortality and disability were independently associated with S. pneumoniae infections (mortality OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.1-16.0, P = 0.04; disability OR 5.4, 95% CI 1.8-15.8, P < 0.01) and illness severity as measured by Pediatric Index of Mortality (PIM2) score (mortality OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.3-6.1, P < 0.01; disability OR 3.4, 95% CI 1.8-6.4, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Despite widespread immunization campaigns, invasive bacterial disease remains responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality in critically ill children in high-income countries. Almost one third of sepsis survivors admitted to the PICU were discharged with some disability. More research is required to delineate the long-term outcome of pediatric sepsis and to identify interventional targets. Our findings emphasize the importance of improved early sepsis-recognition programs to address the high burden of disease.
Keywords: Bacteremia; Meningococcal infections; Morbidity; Mortality; Pneumococcal infections.