Clinical Indicators of Late-Onset Sepsis Workup in Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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Late-onset sepsis (LOS) in very low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants is associated with significant morbidity and mortality.


To determine the incidence of LOS workup, association, and predictive value of clinical indicators leading to culture-positive versus culture-negative sepsis workup.


All sepsis workups performed after 7 days of life, in neonates with birth weight of < 1,500 g were included. Each case (culture-positive workup) was matched with a control (culture-negative workup) for gestational age (GA), birth weight, corrected gestational age, and chronological age, at the time of workup. The clinical indicators leading to the performance of sepsis workup were compared between cases and controls.


The incidence of culture-positive workup was 87/345 (25.2%) and that of LOS was 84/279 (30.1%). Among various clinical indicators, hypothermia and apnea were significantly associated with culture-positive sepsis workup (p = 0.015 and 0.004, respectively), with a positive predictive value of 81.2 and 71.4%, respectively.


In VLBW infants, one-fourth of sepsis workups resulted in a positive culture. Apnea and hypothermia were the most significant predictors of culture-positive workup after matching for GA, birth weight, chronological age, and corrected GA at the time of the workup.

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