Outcomes Associated with Timing of Neurologic Dysfunction Onset Relative to Pediatric Sepsis Recognition∗

Alicia M. Alcamo, Scott L. Weiss, Julie C. Fitzgerald, Matthew P. Kirschen, Laura L. Loftis, Swee Fong Tang, Neal J. Thomas, Vinay M. Nadkarni, Sholeen T. Nett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To compare outcomes associated with timing - early versus late - of any neurologic dysfunction during pediatric sepsis. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a cross-sectional point prevalence study. SETTING: A total of 128 PICUs in 26 countries. PATIENTS: Less than 18 years with severe sepsis on 5 separate days (2013-2014). INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients were categorized as having either no neurologic dysfunction or neurologic dysfunction (i.e., present at or after sepsis recognition), which was defined as Glasgow Coma Scale score less than 5 and/or fixed dilated pupils. Our primary outcome was death or new moderate disability (i.e., Pediatric Overall [or Cerebral] Performance Category score ≥3 and change ≥1 from baseline) at hospital discharge, and 87 of 567 severe sepsis patients (15%) had neurologic dysfunction within 7 days of sepsis recognition (61 at sepsis recognition and 26 after sepsis recognition). Primary site of infection varied based on presence of neurologic dysfunction. Death or new moderate disability occurred in 161 of 480 (34%) without neurologic dysfunction, 45 of 61 (74%) with neurologic dysfunction at sepsis recognition, and 21 of 26 (81%) with neurologic dysfunction after sepsis recognition (p < 0.001 across all groups). On multivariable analysis, in comparison with those without neurologic dysfunction, neurologic dysfunction whether at sepsis recognition or after was associated with increased odds of death or new moderate disability (adjusted odds ratio, 4.9 [95% CI, 2.3-10.1] and 10.7 [95% CI, 3.8-30.5], respectively). We failed to identify a difference between these adjusted odds ratios of death or new moderate disability that would indicate a differential risk of outcome based on timing of neurologic dysfunction (p = 0.20). CONCLUSIONS: In this severe sepsis international cohort, the presence of neurologic dysfunction during sepsis is associated with worse outcomes at hospital discharge. The impact of early versus late onset of neurologic dysfunction in sepsis on outcome remains unknown, and further work is needed to better understand timing of neurologic dysfunction onset in pediatric sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-605
Number of pages13
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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