A Study of Red Cell Distribution Width in Neonatal Sepsis

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The objective of this study was to evaluate a new nontraditional value of the red cell distribution width (RDW) in predicting the clinical outcome of neonatal sepsis.


In this retrospective study, data were collected from the medical files of 500 full-term neonates with a diagnosis of early onset or late onset sepsis. Baseline RDW and other traditional biomarkers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), total leucocytic count, and platelet count were analyzed in light of the clinical data. The primary outcome was 30-day mortality.


Red cell distribution width was significantly higher in nonsurvivors compared with survivors (P < 0.0001). Red cell distribution width was significantly elevated in infants with septic shock compared with those having severe sepsis and those with sepsis (P < 0.0001). A strong positive correlation was found between RDW and CRP (r = 0.8; P <0.0001). Red cell distribution width had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.75 for prediction of mortality, which was almost equal to that of CRP and platelet count. Furthermore, logistic regression analysis showed a positive association of RDW with mortality (odds ratio, 1.31; 95% confidence interval, 1.241–1.399).


Red cell distribution width is a useful prognostic marker in neonatal sepsis. Larger prospective studies are required to confirm the value of this routinely available marker in this category of patients.

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