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It's an alarming fact: Sepsis kills more children in the US than childhood cancer, and it’s the top killer of kids worldwide. Unbelievably scary, right? Yet, a new survey by Radius Global Market Research found that most parents have no idea how to detect it in their kids.
Of the more than 1,000 parents surveyed, 75 percent had heard the word sepsis before, but just 28 percent knew the signs. Sepsis is a bodily response to an infection that can cause organ failure, amputation and even death. Though parents may think it’s rare, sepsis affects more than 75,000 kids across the country every year.
Many parents believe popular misconceptions about sepsis, according to the survey, like kids can only get it in the hospital. In reality, 92 percent of sepsis cases are the result of things that happen every day, like an infected bite, the flu or a playground scrape. On top of that, 42 percent of parents believe there are no long-term effects on kids who contract sepsis, despite the fact that one in three affected have a significant decline in their cognitive functioning just 28 days after leaving the hospital, according to Sepsis Alliance.
Risk factors include infections (from a hangnail to pneumonia), being very young or old and suffering from a serious illness or impaired immune system.
Here are some symptoms to watch for:
• Hypothermia (low body temp); shivering
• Pale or discolored skin
• A heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute
• Fast respiratory rate; shortness of breath
• Altered mental state (confusion, coma, etc.)
To prevent sepsis in your kids, keep up good hygiene (handwashing is key!) and stay up-to-date on vaccinations. Make sure all cuts, scrapes and skin breaks—no matter how small—are properly cleaned. If you think your child has come down with sepsis, treat it as a medical emergency: Risk of death from sepsis goes up 7.6 percent every hour that passes without treatment. For more details, visit sepsis.org.