A groundbreaking study has unveiled alarming statistics regarding sepsis-related deaths around the world, revealing that the figures are twice as high as previously believed, with infants and young children in lower-income countries being the most vulnerable. In 2017, nearly 50 million cases of sepsis were recorded, resulting in approximately 11 million deaths, according to researchers from the United States, as published in The Lancet medical journal.

Sepsis is characterized as an overactive response by the body to infection, and it has been associated with one out of every five global fatalities. To provide perspective, the World Health Organization estimated approximately 9.6 million cancer-related deaths in 2018.

These revised figures were extracted from an analysis of data conducted as part of the Global Burden of Disease study, led by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The significant increase in numbers is attributed to a dedicated effort to comprehend the situation in low- and middle-income nations, where data is limited, and children are disproportionately affected. The study reveals that more than half of the sepsis cases worldwide in 2017 occurred among children, with nearly 3 million of them losing their lives, with many being younger than one month.

Dr. Mohsen Naghavi, a senior author on the study and a professor of health metrics sciences, stressed the importance of prevention. He called for increased focus on measures like vaccination, access to clean water, and improved hygiene to combat infections, along with the urgency of addressing antimicrobial resistance, a contributing factor to sepsis. Several infections have become resistant to traditional antibiotics due to the evolution of bacteria and viruses.

Diarrheal disease ranked as the leading cause of sepsis, with pneumonia being the primary cause of sepsis-related deaths. This revelation underscores the pressing need for enhanced public health measures and access to quality medical care to prevent such avoidable fatalities.

The research reinforces the idea that early diagnosis and proper treatment are vital to tackling sepsis effectively. Moreover, its findings emphasize the critical importance of public health initiatives aimed at combatting this devastating condition, which now claims more lives than cancer, especially in developing countries where healthcare interventions remain essential.

By Impact Lab