How to spot Sepsis in children

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 a 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.