Neonatal sepsis in rural India: timing, microbiology and antibiotic resistance in a population-based prospective study in the community setting

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To examine the timing and microbiology of neonatal sepsis in a population-based surveillance in the Indian community setting.


All live born infants in 223 villages of Odisha state were followed at home for 60 days. Suspect sepsis cases were referred to study hospitals for further evaluation including blood culture.


Of 12 622 births, 842 were admitted with suspected sepsis of whom 95% were 4 to 60 days old. Culture-confirmed incidence of sepsis was 6.7/1000 births with 51% Gram negatives (Klebsiella predominating) and 26% Gram positives (mostly Staphylococcus aureus). A very high level of resistance to penicillin and ampicillin, moderate resistance to cephalosporins and extremely low resistance to Gentamicin and Amikacin was observed.


The bacterial burden of sepsis in the Indian community is not high. Judicious choice of empiric antibiotics, antibiotic stewardship and alternate modalities should be considered for the management or prevention of neonatal sepsis in India.

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