A new study demonstrates ‘unacceptably high’ rates of hospital-acquired infections among children in the UK and Europe.

calendar-icon 13 January 2017

The report, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that one in six children in paediatric intensive care units, and one in ten babies in neonatal intensive care units had developed hospital infections while being treated.

The study found that the pattern of hospital acquired infections is different in babies and children compared to adults, with more serious infections such as blood poisoning/bloodstream infections being commonly seen (45%) followed by respiratory tract infections/pneumonia (22%).

Many of these hospital-related infections are also multi-drug resistant, making their treatment more complicated.

The study was led by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC). The authors, from St George's University of London and Imperial College London, are calling for continued action to prevent and reduce infection rates in children in hospital with a focus on neonatal and paediatric intensive care units.

Mike Sharland, Professor of Paediatric Infections at St George’s, University of London, commented: “These rates of hospital acquired infections are unacceptably high both in the UK and Europe, with worrying implications for babies, children and their families.”
Alison Holmes, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London added: "We urgently need focus and investment on reducing the risk of bloodstream infections in babies and children in intensive care units across Europe."

Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS England have now launched a national Infection in Critical Care Quality Improvement Programme (ICCQIP) working with Adult, Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care societies and providers. This programme has the capacity to reduce these potentially avoidable infections, where hospitals collect data, develop and implement evidence-based interventions.