Sepsis in Children

Sepsis is a serious illness that requires quick treatment.  It is a complication of an infection.

If treatment isn’t received quickly, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death.

It is important for everyone to know the symptoms of sepsis – quick action and diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.

How to spot sepsis in children under five:

  • Mottled, bluish or pale skin
  • Lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to the touch
  • Rapid, very fast breathing
  • A rash appears on the skin that does not fade
  • A fit or convulsion

If your child has these symptoms, it is vital that you go straight to A&E or call 999. 

If your child is unwell, you should always trust your instincts, children can deteriorate rapidly and if you feel your child is getting worse, always seek medical advice.

Things to watch out for:


A high temperature or low temperature can be a concern particularly if:

  • A baby under 3 months has a temperature over 38C
  • A baby aged 3-6 months has a temperature over 39C
  • A child with a high temperature who cannot be encouraged to show interest
  • A child has a low temperature below 36C


Watch for:

  • Your child working harder to breathe than normal
  • A grunting noise with every breath
  • Difficulty breathing due to shortness of breath
  • Pauses in normal breathing patterns


It is a cause for concern if your child has not had a wee or a wet nappy for 12 hours.

Eating and Drinking

Watch for:

  • A baby under 1 month with no interest in feeding
  • Not drinking for more than 8 hours
  • Vomit that is green, blood or black

Activity and body

Seek medical advice if you child has:

  • A bulging soft spot on a baby’s head
  • Eyes that look sunken
  • No interest in anything
  • Is floppy
  • A weak, whining or continuous cry
  • Confusion (in an older child)
  • Is very irritable or unresponsive
  • A stiff neck

Posted in Paediatric First Aid and tagged .


  1. Such an important topic and well presented. My friends hubby had cancer, but what got him in the end was sepsis and no one was fast enough. very sad and he left a wife and 7 year old daughter

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