Delirium in children is common but not widely understood by pediatric practitioners, often leading to underdiagnosis and lack of treatment. This presents a significant challenge in the young patients in the PICU who are most at risk for delirium and in whom the core features of delirium are difficult to assess and treat. However, because of the potential increased morbidity and mortality associated with untreated delirium in adults and children, it remains important to address it promptly. The literature for delirium in this age group is limited. Here we present the case of an infant with multiple underlying medical risk factors who exhibited waxing and waning motor restlessness with disrupted sleep-wake cycles contributing significantly to destabilization of vital parameters. Making a diagnosis of delirium was key to guiding further treatment. After appropriate environmental interventions are implemented and underlying medical causes are addressed, antipsychotic medications, although not Food and Drug Administration–approved in infants, are the mainstay of pharmacotherapy for delirium in older age groups. They may lengthen corrected QT interval (QTc) intervals, presenting a challenge in infants who frequently have other coexisting risks for QTc prolongation, as in our case. The risk from QTc prolongation needs to be balanced against that from untreated delirium. Low doses of risperidone were successfully used in this patient and without side effects or worsening of QTc interval. This case illustrates the importance of increased recognition of delirium in children, including infants, and the role for cautious consideration of atypical antipsychotics in the very young.
Diagnosis and Management of Delirium in Critically Ill Infants: Case Report and Review
POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Khyati Brahmbhatt is the recipient of the Mount Zion Health Fund grant for providing educational and clinical services for mental health treatment in a primary care pediatric setting and has received honoraria from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for speaking at the Annual Board Review Course. The other author has indicated she has no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.
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Khyati Brahmbhatt, Emily Whitgob; Diagnosis and Management of Delirium in Critically Ill Infants: Case Report and Review. Pediatrics March 2016; 137 (3): e20151940. 10.1542/peds.2015-1940
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