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Blood Analysis Predicts Sepsis and Organ Failure in Children

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Mar 2024
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Image: The method predicts if a child is likely to develop sepsis and go into organ failure (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: The method predicts if a child is likely to develop sepsis and go into organ failure (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Sepsis poses a grave risk in which a severe immune reaction to infection leads to organ damage. Identifying sepsis in children is complex since the symptoms mirror those of many pediatric illnesses. Presently, if sepsis is suspected, medical practitioners administer antibiotics, increase fluids, and intensify monitoring for the child, leading to some receiving unneeded treatments. Now, a new technique developed by researchers can predict the likelihood of a child developing sepsis and succumbing to organ failure.

The research by investigators at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) involved more than 900 critically ill children in the emergency departments and intensive care units across four hospitals. Blood samples collected during the acute stage of their infection were examined for gene activation or suppression. This analysis allowed the researchers to identify gene expression patterns that could predict the child's risk of organ failure within the next 24 hours, as well as whether the infection was bacterial, viral, or a non-infectious inflammatory condition. Early detection is crucial for effective sepsis management, making this discovery potentially valuable for future clinical practice, although further investigation is necessary before it can guide preemptive actions by clinicians.

“Our next step will be to transfer what we have discovered to a point-of-care platform, which means we can potentially generate the results from a blood test within an hour,” said Professor Luregn Schlapbach from UQ’s Child Health Research Centre.

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