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Low Socioeconomic Status Is Associated with Prolonged Times to Assessment and Treatment, Sepsis and Infectious Death in Pediatric Fever in El Salvador
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Author: Ronald Gavidia et al.

by Ronald Gavidia, Soad L. Fuentes, Roberto Vasquez, Miguel Bonilla, Marie-Chantal Ethier, Caroline Diorio, Miguela Caniza, Scott C. Howard, Lillian Sung


Infection remains the most common cause of death from toxicity in children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries. Rapid administration of antibiotics when fever develops can prevent progression to sepsis and shock, and serves as an important indicator of the quality of care in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. We analyzed factors associated with (1) Longer times from fever onset to hospital presentation/antibiotic treatment and (2) Sepsis and infection-related mortality.


This prospective cohort study included children aged 0–16 years with newly diagnosed acute leukemia treated at Benjamin Bloom Hospital, San Salvador. We interviewed parents/caregivers within one month of diagnosis and at the onset of each new febrile episode. Times from initial fever to first antibiotic administration and occurrence of sepsis and infection-related mortality were documented.


Of 251 children enrolled, 215 had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (85.7%). Among 269 outpatient febrile episodes, median times from fever to deciding to seek medical care was 10.0 hours (interquartile range [IQR] 5.0–20.0), and from decision to seek care to first hospital visit was 1.8 hours (IQR 1.0–3.0). Forty-seven (17.5%) patients developed sepsis and 7 (2.6%) died of infection. Maternal illiteracy was associated with longer time from fever to decision to seek care (P?=?0.029) and sepsis (odds ratio [OR] 3.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.09–8.63; P?=?0.034). More infectious deaths occurred in those with longer travel time to hospital (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.03–1.81; P?=?0.031) and in families with an annual household income Interpretation

Illiteracy, poverty, and longer travel times are associated with delays in assessment and treatment of fever and with sepsis and infectious mortality in pediatric leukemia. Providing additional education to high-risk families and staying at a nearby guest house during periods of neutropenia may decrease sepsis and infectious mortality.