Bloodstream infections the most common type of healthcare-associated infections in children in European ICUs

6 February 2017

A study published by The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that the prevalence of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) was the highest in pediatric intensive care units (ICUs) with one in six children having an infection. In neonatal ICUs, 1 in 10 babies were infected. The study was based on data from the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) point prevalence survey of HAIs and antimicrobial use in European acute care hospitals between 2011 and 2012, and included 770 infections reported in 726 children and adolescents.

Bloodstream infections were the most common type of infection (45%), followed by lower respiratory tract infections (22%). Although a majority of bloodstream infections in the study were reported in infants younger than 12 months, the proportion remained high in other age groups as well. Bloodstream infections in newborns and children are associated with long-term adverse neurological outcomes and high mortality.

It is important to note that this is the largest multinational study describing HAIs in children so far. A second point prevalence survey is ongoing in Europe, with results expected to be published by the ECDC in 2017.

The authors urged a pan-European prevention program to reduce the very high rates of HAIs in European children, with a special focus on neonatal and pediatric ICUs.

*Image credit: ICU Critical Care 1 by Calleamanecer licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0