Cognitive and Behavioral Consequences of Pediatric Delirium: A Pilot Study

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2018 Oct;19(10):e531-e537. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000001686.


Objectives: To investigate the long-term impact of postoperative delirium in children.

Design: Single-center point prevalence study.

Setting: Twenty-two bed PICU.

Patients: Forty-seven patients 1-16 years old.

Interventions: Standardized neuropsychologic follow-up investigation after a mean time of 17.7 ± 2.9 months after PICU discharge.

Measurements and main results: Pediatric delirium did not have significant long-term impact on global cognition, executive functions, or behavior. Severity of delirium did not influence the outcome. Different predictors were identified for later cognitive functioning, executive functions, and behavioral problems. Younger age was confirmed to be a relevant risk factor for delirium as well as for the cognitive and behavioral outcome.

Conclusions: Contrary to the findings in adults, there was no clear association between pediatric delirium and long-term cognition or behavior in this cohort. However, this is a first pilot study with several limitations that should promote more comprehensive prospective trials.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Emergence Delirium / epidemiology*
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires