Intravenous Treatment for Sepsis in Children

At Hassenfeld Children's Hospital of New York at NYU Langone, treatment of sepsis in babies and children usually begins in the neonatal intensive care unit or pediatric intensive care unit. Many treatments are delivered through an intravenous (IV) catheter, a thin, plastic tube that is inserted through a vein in the arm or leg.

IV therapy is the fastest way to deliver treatment, especially in children who are too sick to swallow medications. In addition, some treatments are only effective when given through a vein with IV infusion. Treatment combats the underlying infection and helps to increase blood pressure. A rapid decrease in blood pressure is a symptom of sepsis and can lead to septic shock if organs are deprived of oxygen and nutrients.


Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which eliminate a wide range of bacterial infections, are usually given before the cause of an infection has been identified. Your child’s doctor may add other antibiotics, antifungal medications, or antiviral medications after the specific cause of an infection has been identified.

Our doctors may also use medications that contain catecholamines, hormones that make the heart beat faster and increase blood pressure, to prevent and reverse septic shock. Medications such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine are types of catecholamines that are used to increase blood pressure in children with uncompensated septic shock, in which the heart is unable to maintain blood pressure or deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body.


During treatment of sepsis, doctors also administer large amounts of fluid through a vein with IV infusions to help increase blood pressure and prevent dehydration. These fluids may also contain glucose and other nutrients that are needed to ensure organs function properly.

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