Researchers trial therapy for children with life-threatening septicaemia
22 April 2008
Doctors funded by national charity Meningitis Research Foundation are beginning trials to see whether a drug that has shown promise in the treatment of adults with septicaemia will work in children.
Severe septicaemia including meningococcal septicaemia - the blood poisoning form of meningitis - is a major cause of death and disability in children.
Although early recognition, powerful antibiotics, and good intensive care have improved survival from meningitis and septicaemia, new ways are needed to save lives and improve outcomes for survivors.
Research in adults has shown that steroid replacement therapy could be useful in some patients. However, children respond differently to adults, and a definitive trial in children is needed.
This pilot study is being led by Dr Saul Faust, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Southampton, and conducted in three paediatric intensive care units at hospitals in Southampton, London and Bristol. The study will provide the necessary information to enable the design of further trials to establish the value of steroid replacement therapy in childhood septicaemia.
Christopher Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, commented: "Steroid replacement therapy could be an important new way to tackle septicaemia and the current research will provide information on both optimum length of therapy and lead to a better understanding of how steroids work in children. The research costs approximately £240,000 and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the Moulton Charitable Foundation towards our costs."
Media Contact: Julia Warren 01454 281811 or 07711 057875
Notes to Editor:
- Meningitis Research Foundation currently funds 18 research projects. Since it was founded in 1989, the charity has awarded 118 research grants, leading to many advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia.
- Meningitis Research Foundation operates a Freefone 24 hour helpline - 080 8800 3344 - providing information on meningitis and septicaemia to the general public and health professionals.
- Information on meningitis and septicaemia is also available on the Foundation's world-renowned website - www.meningitis.org - in 22 languages. An interpretation service in 120 languages is available through the 24 hour helpline.
- The University of Southampton is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in health, humanities, science and engineering.
The University, which has over 22,000 students, 5000 staff, and an annual turnover in the region of £325 million, is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and home to a range of world-leading research centres. These include the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.
Symptoms of meningitis:
Fever; vomiting; severe headache; rash (not present in all cases); stiff neck*; dislike of bright lights*; very sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake; confused/delirious; seizures (fits) may also be seen. (*Unusual in young children.)
Symptoms of septicaemia (blood poisoning form of the disease):
Fever; vomiting; limb/joint/muscle pain (sometimes stomach pain/diarrhoea); pale or mottled skin; cold hands and feet; shivering; breathing fast/breathless; rash (anywhere on the body); very sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake; confused/delirious.
Other symptoms in babies include: tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot); refusing to feed; being irritable when picked up with a high pitched or moaning cry; a stiff body with jerky movements or else floppy and lifeless.
Read more about this project
Research archive for the public - Trial of corticosteroid therapy for severe septicaemia in children – a pilot study.
Research archive for the scientific community - Evaluation of corticosteroid therapy in childhood severe sepsis - a randomised pilot study.