Infections linked to one in five childhood deaths in England and Wales

  • Arch Dis Child

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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Infections are associated with one in five childhood deaths in England and Wales, with respiratory infections topping the league table of known causes, reveals an analysis of the most up to date figures, published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The analysis estimated the contribution of infections to childhood deaths in England and Wales using national electronic death registration data for children aged 28 days to 15 years who died during 2013-2015. The analysis included all deaths with any mention of an infection even if an underlying comorbidity was recorded as the primary cause of death.

There were 5088 deaths in total (17.6 deaths/100,000 children annually) during 2013-2015 compared with 6897 deaths (23.9/100,000 children) during 2003-2005 (incidence rate ratios [IRR], 0.74; 95% CI, 0.71-0.77). The numbers of infection-related deaths were 951 (18.7%) in 2013-2015 compared with 1368 (19.8%) during 2003-2005, equivalent to an infection-related mortality rate of 3.3/100,000 children compared with 4.8/100,000 children during the two periods (IRR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.64-0.75), respectively.

An underlying comorbidity was recorded in 55.0 per cent of the death registrations during 2013-2015 and increased with age.

Where recorded, respiratory tract infection (42.7%) was the most commonly reported presentation in 2013-2015.

Central nervous system infections accounted for only 4.8 per cent.

Overall, 63.1 per cent of infection-related deaths were associated with a bacterial infection, 34.2% were associated with a viral infection and 2.5 per cent were associated with a fungal infection.

Large reductions were seen in meningococcal and pneumococcal deaths, while deaths due to group A Streptococcus were more frequent in 2013-2015 than 2003-2005, especially in toddlers and older children. Among viral infections, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, influenza and cytomegalovirus were the main responsible pathogens.