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February 2016

Sepsis and the Global Burden of Disease in Children

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Critical Care, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, British Columbia Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(2):107-108. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3241

In 2010, an estimated 25% of disability-adjusted life-years—a metric that incorporates premature death by years of life lost and years lived with disability—and 13% of all deaths worldwide were in children younger than 5 years.1,2 While reductions in mortality in children younger than 5 years have occurred in many countries since 1990, mortality increased in young children in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with severe infections leading to sepsis being a major contributor.1 For instance, in the neonatal period, diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, and meningitis were important contributors to mortality in 2010, while in the postneonatal period, nearly 1 million estimated deaths (half of all deaths) were due to lower respiratory tract infections (respiratory syncytial virus, Haemophilus influenzae type B, Streptococcus pneumoniae), diarrheal diseases (rotavirus, Cryptosporidium), and malaria.2 Other infectious causes of death in children younger than 5 years were measles, pertussis, and human immunodeficiency virus/AIDS. We suggest that sepsis-related pediatric deaths are substantially underestimated and that efforts are needed to better assess the impact of sepsis on childhood mortality worldwide.

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