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Worldwide survey finds 16 percent rate of acute neurological conditions in critically ill children

April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017 - Sixteen percent of children in pediatric intensive care units (ICUs) have acute neurological conditions with brain damage due to cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury, or other causes, reports an international survey study in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

"Children with acute neurologic insults are common in ICUs and are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates and prolonged ICU stays, posing significant challenges to public, family, and individual health," according to the report by the PANGEA Investigators, led by Ericka L. Fink, MD, MS, of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. The findings underscore the need for "transformational ideas" to improve outcomes for this large group of critically ill children at high risk of adverse clinical outcomes.

Worldwide Snapshot of Acute Neurological Conditions Among Critically Ill Children The PANGEA study (Prevalence of Acute Critical Neurological Disease in Children: A Global Epidemiological Assessment) was designed to assess the multinational prevalence and outcomes of critical neurological injuries and illnesses among children in participating ICUs. On four days during a one-year period, ICUs at 107 hospitals provided information on children with acute neurological conditions.

"Acute neurological conditions in children are associated with high mortality and morbidity (cognitive, physical and emotional disability) rates, and largely lack targeted neuroprotective therapies that improve outcome," Dr. Fink explains. "Measuring the burden of these conditions is a step towards strategizing prospective study design and allocation of resources to achieve the long-term goal of improving outcome for these children."

The hospitals contributed information on a total of 924 patients. Although nearly 90% of the hospitals were in North America or Europe, hospitals in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America were represented as well. A separate study looking specifically at traumatic brain injury at low-resource settings in Africa is underway (PANGEA-Developing Countries). Overall, 16.2% of children in the reporting ICUs had acute neurological conditions. The children's ages ranged from seven days to 17 years. Many children had preexisting medical conditions, but 61% had normal neurological status before their current hospitalizations.

Cardiac arrest, resulting in lack of blood flow to the brain, was the most common overall cause of acute neurological conditions (23%). Other causes included traumatic brain injury (19%), central nervous system infection or inflammation (16%), and stroke or a mass, such as a brain tumor (9% each).

Regions differed in terms of most common condition reported. Infection/inflammation was the most common cause in Asia, South America, and the sole African hospital contributing to the study. In all other regions, cardiac arrest was the main cause.

The children were at high risk of poor outcomes. Twelve percent died overall, the highest rate in children with cardiac arrest (24%). Another 32% were left with moderate to severe neurological disability at the three-month follow-up, including nearly half of those with traumatic brain injury. The children had long lengths of stay, an average of 13 days in the ICU and 22 days in the hospital.

"The growth of pediatric neurocritical care services in pediatric ICUs and development of a pediatric neurocritical care research network reflect the specialty's acknowledgment and commitment to improve outcomes for children with acute neurologic insults," Dr. Fink and coauthors write. They believe that the PANGEA data "suggest a vital need for resources to assist in the challenge of improving outcomes for these children throughout the span of the periods of emergency care through to rehabilitation."
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Click here to read "International Survey of Critically Ill Children With Acute Neurologic Insults: The Prevalence of Acute Critical Neurological Disease in Children: A Global Epidemiological Assessment Study*."

Article: "International Survey of Critically Ill Children With Acute Neurologic Insults: The Prevalence of Acute Critical Neurological Disease in Children: A Global Epidemiological Assessment Study*" (doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000001093)

Note to editors: For further information, contact Curtis Powell, Director of Marketing and Communications for SCCM: phone +1 (847) 827-7282 or +1 (312) 285-6551, or e-mail cpowell@sccm.org.

About the Society of Critical Care Medicine

The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) is the largest nonprofit medical organization dedicated to promoting excellence and consistency in the practice of critical care. With members in more than 100 countries, SCCM is the only organization that represents all professional components of the critical care team. The Society offers a variety of activities that ensure excellence in patient care, education, research and advocacy. SCCM's mission is to secure the highest-quality care for all critically ill and injured patients. Visit http://www.sccm.org for more information. Follow @SCCM or visit us on Facebook.

About Pediatric Critical Care Medicine

Pediatric Critical Care Medicine is the official journal of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies, the Pediatric Intensive Care Society UK, the Latin American Society of Pediatric Intensive Care, and the Japanese Society of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care. This exciting journal is the first scientific, peer-reviewed publication to focus exclusively on pediatric critical care medicine and critical care neonatology.

About Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer N.V. (AEX: WKL) is a global leader in information services and solutions for professionals in the health, tax and accounting, risk and compliance, finance and legal sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with specialized technology and services.

Wolters Kluwer reported 2016 annual revenues of €4.3 billion. The company, headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands, serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries and employs 19,000 people worldwide.

Wolters Kluwer shares are listed on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. Wolters Kluwer has a sponsored Level 1 American Depositary Receipt program. The ADRs are traded on the over-the-counter market in the U.S. (WTKWY).

For more information about our solutions and organization, visit http://www.wolterskluwer.com, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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