How to spot Sepsis in children


What every parent needs to know about sepsis.

Sepsis is rare in children, but if your child is unwell with a bug or infection, is rapidly getting worse and you are worried that their illness seems different to any previous illness, watch your child closely, it could be sepsis.

Sepsis is rare but serious complication of an infection


A child may have sepsis if he or she:

  1. Is breathing very fast
  2. Has a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  3. Looks mottled, bluish, or pale
  4. Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  5. Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  6. Feels abnormally cold to touch

A child under 5 may have sepsis if he or she:

  1. Is not feeding
  2. Is vomiting repeatedly
  3. Has not passed urine for 12 hours

If your child is unwell with either a fever or very low temperature (or has had a fever in the last 24 hours), call 999 and just ask: could it be sepsis?

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This leaflet provides further advice on how to spot sepsis in children.