Pediatric Sepsis

Children at Risk for New, Progressive Medical Conditions After Pediatric Sepsis

Critically ill children hospitalized with sepsis are at risk of experiencing a new or progressive condition post-hospitalization, with 1 in 5 children being found to develop or experience a new disease within 6 months of leaving intensive care, according to a new study.1

There is little information regarding the development or progression of medical conditions in children after sepsis. To understand the possible post-hospitalization risks, the researchers conducted a national cohort study that reviewed data of children with sepsis or nonsepsis hospitalization (n = 101,511), comparing the 2 groups.

The children who enrolled in the study were under the age of 19 with the median age of the sepsis cohort (n = 5150) being 9.5 years of age, and the median age of the nonsepsis cohort (n = 96,361) being 7 years of age. Of the cohort of children with sepsis, 13% developed a new target condition, and 21% with a preexisting target condition had disease progression. Further, 19.4% had development and/or progression of at least 1 condition.

Compared with children with nonsepsis hospitalization, children with sepsis commonly developed new conditions including chronic respiratory failure and chronic kidney disease (CKD), among other conditions.

Among progressive conditions, the researchers found that supplemental dependence was more common among children with sepsis compared with children without sepsis. Epilepsy was a less common occurrence in children with sepsis, while CKD was similar to those with nonsepsis.

“Many children who require critical care for sepsis have debilitating physical, cognitive or emotional challenges long after recovery," said lead author Erin F. Carlton, MD, MSc, a pediatric intensivist at University of Michigan Health C.S Mott Children’s Hospital in a press release.2 "Our findings suggest a need for improved follow up care focused on identifying and treating new or worsening medical conditions.”


—Jessica Ganga


  1. Carlton EF, Gebremariam A, Maddux AB, et al. New and progressive medical conditions after pediatric sepsis hospitalization requiring critical care. JAMA Pediatr. Published online October 10, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.3554
  2. Children commonly face new, worsening health problems months after critical illness from sepsis. News Release. Science Daily; October 13, 2022. Accessed October 25, 2022.