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PTSD risk for child sepsis survivors

Monday September 9th, 2019

About a third of young children treated for sepsis later show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, a European conference has heard.

Symptoms can last for up to seven years after discharge, according to researchers at St Mary's Hospital, London, UK.

The research was reported to the conference of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Copenhagen, Denmark, this weekend.

Doctors studied outcomes for 69 patients, all aged more than three and with an average age of 4.2.

The researchers found 31% of children showed signs of PTSD after follow-up, which took place an average of 4.6 years after treatment in intensive care units.

Researcher Dr Georgina Corbet Burcher, of Imperial College, London, said, "Young people survive critical illness at greater rates than ever before, but in some there is a high psychological price. PTSD symptoms can lead to long term effects on their mental health and wellbeing which persist in the absence of physical after-effects. It appears that those who suffer from sepsis may be at particular risk for subsequent PTSD symptom development.

"There's many questions still unanswered-in particular why it is that sepsis might be a risk factor for later development of PTSD symptoms, which children are at risk of longer term symptoms and the potential mechanism behind the brain's response to high levels of inflammation."

She added: "We also need to bear in mind that this is a small study in a single centre, so these findings need to be confirmed in other settings."

Abstract: Post-traumatic stress disorder following childhood sepsis and associated factors

Tags: A&E | Child Health | Mental Health | UK News

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