J Pediatr Intensive Care 2019; 08(01): 003-010
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1676634
Review Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Epidemiology of Pediatric Septic Shock

Daniela Carla de Souza
1  Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Hospital Sírio-Libanês, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
2  Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Hospital Universitário da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Flávia Ribeiro Machado
3  Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Intensive Care, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

01 November 2018

11 November 2018

Publication Date:
28 December 2018 (online)


Sepsis, or dysregulated host response to infection, is considered a worldwide public health problem. It is a major childhood disease both in terms of frequency and severity, and severe sepsis is still considered the main cause of death from infection in childhood. This review provides an overview of the epidemiology of pediatric septic shock. The prevalence of severe sepsis and septic shock among hospitalized children ranges from 1 to 26%. Mortality is high, ranging from 5% in developed countries to up to 35% in developing countries. However, 10 years after the publication of pediatric sepsis definitions, a global perspective on the burden of this disease in childhood is still missing. Major obstacles to a better knowledge of sepsis epidemiology in children are the absence of an adequate disease definition and not having sepsis as a cause of death in the World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease Report, which is one of the most important sources of information for health policies decision-making in the world. Several studies performed in both developed and developing countries have shown that mortality from septic shock is high and is associated with delayed diagnosis, late treatment, and nonadherence to the treatment guidelines. Reducing mortality from sepsis in childhood is a worldwide challenge, especially in developing countries, where the highest number of cases and deaths are recorded and where financial resources are scarce. Many specialists consider that prevention, education, and organization are key to achieve a reduction in the burden of sepsis.