Outpatient management of selected young febrile infants without antibiotics

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Abstract

Objective

To analyse the outpatient management of selected febrile infants younger than 90 days without systematic lumbar puncture and antibiotics.

Methods

A prospective registry-based cohort study including all the infants ≤90 days with fever without a source (FWS) who were evaluated in a paediatric emergency department (ED) over a 7-year period (September 2007–August 2014). We analysed the outcome of those infants with low-risk criteria for serious bacterial infection (SBI) managed as outpatients without antibiotics and without undergoing a lumbar puncture. Low-risk criteria: Well appearing, older than 21 days of age, no leucocyturia, absolute neutrophil count ≤10 000, serum C reactive protein ≤20 mg/L, procalcitonin <0.5 ng/mL and no clinical deterioration during the stay in the ED (always <24 hours).

Results

1472 infants with FWS attended the ED. Of these, 676 were classified to be at low risk for SBI without performing a lumbar puncture. After staying <24 hours in the short-stay unit of the ED, 586 (86.6%) were managed as outpatients without antibiotics. Two patients were diagnosed with SBI: one occult bacteraemia and one bacterial gastroenteritis. Both were afebrile when evaluated again and did well. No patient returned to the ED due to clinical deterioration. Fifty-one infants (8.7%) returned to the ED mainly due to persistence of fever or irritability. None was diagnosed with definite SBI or non-bacterial meningitis.

Conclusions

Outpatient management without antibiotics and systematic lumbar puncture is appropriate for selected febrile infants younger than 3 months of age with close follow-up.

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