Parents to learn signs of sepsis

13 September 2019

Sepsis takes the life of more than one million children every year, but thanks to a boost in research funding, University of Queensland doctors are a step closer to beating the deadly disease.

A $40,000 grant from The Emergency Medicine Foundation was announced today on World Sepsis Day (13 September) to help parents recognise the signs and symptoms of sepsis.

Paediatric intensive care specialist Associate Professor Luregn Schlapbach said EMF’s funding allowed  Queensland-led research projects to remain at the forefront of the issue.

“Parents will be the focus of this latest study to increase awareness in the community about the signs and symptoms of sepsis in children,” Dr Schlapbach said.

“By understanding the role parents play in identifying children with sepsis, improved recognition strategies can be developed.” 

The study forms one project undertaken by the Paediatric Sepsis Research Programme, headed by Dr Schlapbach, with another three in progress.

“Over the past two years, we have recruited over 700 children to an EMF-funded study investigating if certain gene markers could show septic infection,” he said.

“There is great potential that these findings will lead to a more reliable and faster diagnosis of sepsis in the hospital setting.

“We have also been running a clinical trial looking into two novel resuscitation techniques which can be used by doctors in the Acute Care setting.

“One strategy consists of the use of early inotropes – medicines that change the force of heart contractions – for rapid resuscitation of children presenting with sepsis to the Emergency Department.

“The other strategy consists of so-called metabolic resuscitation, which is a combination of steroids, Vitamin C, and Thiamine, to children presenting with sepsis to Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) within Australia.”

Studies undertaken by the Paediatric Sepsis Research Programme are an important step forward in Australia’s National Action Plan for Sepsis, launched earlier this year.

Dr Schlapbach said it was important to raise awareness of the disease and acknowledge the research efforts underway this World Sepsis Day. 

“Sepsis is a devastating infection. In Queensland alone, more than 500 children are evaluated and treated for sepsis every year,” he said.

“As the leading cause of preventable death and persistent harm in children in Queensland, it’s up to both clinicians and the community to make a difference.”

Since 2007, EMF’s investment in Queensland-led sepsis research programs has amassed $1 million.

Media: Associate Professor Luregn Schlapbach,; Faculty of Medicine Communications,, +61 7 3365 5118, +61 436 368 746