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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 14 (2003), Issue 1, Pages 28-31
Original Article

Choice of Antibiotics in Late Neonatal Sepsis in the Extremely Low Birth Weight Infant

Tara R Allen and Orlando P da Silva

St Joseph’s Health Care London, Department of Paediatrics, Child Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Received 23 October 2001; Accepted 19 February 2002

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To review the choice of antibiotics in treating suspected late neonatal sepsis in infants weighing 1000 g or less in a neonatal intensive care unit.

METHODS: Retrospective review of medical records.

RESULTS: Ninety-six infants weighing 1000 g or less were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit during the study period. Sixty-two infants survived beyond four days of life and had at least one sepsis workup done to exclude late neonatal infection. Of the 62 study patients, 42 (68%) were started on ampicillin and netilmicin (A/N) and 20 (32%) were started on vancomycin and ceftizoxime (V/C) as the antibiotics of choice, pending culture results. Of the patients started on A/N, 17 of 42 had a positive blood culture compared with 11 of 20 on V/C (40% versus 55%, P=0.40). The mean (±SD) birth weight of infants started on A/N was 793±133 g compared with a mean of 728±153 g in the group that received V/C (P=0.09). Seven patients died in the A/N group compared with three in the V/C group (16.7% versus 15%, P=0.84). In addition to the sepsis episode studied, before they were discharged from hospital, 21 of 42 (50%) infants in the A/N group had further workups for suspected sepsis, compared with 16 of 20 (80%) (P=0.048) infants initially given V/C.

CONCLUSIONS: Ampicillin and netilmicin is a safe antibiotic combination for neonates suspected of late sepsis. This, in turn, may be important in reducing vancomycin overuse and the potential for bacterial resistance to this antimicrobial agent.