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BMC Pediatr. 2013 Jan 7;13:5. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-13-5.

The use of ciprofloxacin and fluconazole in Italian neonatal intensive care units: a nationwide survey.

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  • 1Laboratory for Mother and Child Health, Department of Public Health Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, Milan, Italy.



Treatment and prophylaxis of sepsis in very low birth weight neonates is a matter of concern and research is being undertaken with the aim to give rise to shared approaches based on solid evidence. As part of a European initiative, a survey was set up to describe the use of two drugs in this area. The Italian national practices concerning neonatal sepsis, as well as calls for related guidance, are described.


A standardized and previously tested questionnaire was submitted online to all Italian level III NICUs. A 5-point Likert scale was used to analyze attitudinal replies. Categorical variables were compared by χ2 analysis and 2-tailed P-values are reported.


Data was provided by 38 Italian NICUs (36% of the country's level III centers), 53% of which have 1-10 cases of bacterial sepsis monthly and 90% a prevalence of <1% fungal infections. Ciprofloxacin and fluconazole treatment for neonatal sepsis are scantly used in Italian NICUs (13% and 45%, respectively). Major concerns are related to the safety of ciprofloxacin and the efficacy of fluconazole. On the contrary, prophylaxis of fungal infections is a routine approach in many Italian NICUs. The use of both ciprofloxacin and fluconazole is characterized by a large inter-NICU variability in dose and scheme of use. The lack of adequate, shared evidence is a common consideration made by the survey participants.


Common approaches are needed to standardize and update a national drug strategy for the prevention and treatment of sepsis in very low birth weight newborns. This can be achieved through collaborative initiatives aimed at setting up guidelines, based on available data, and multicenter trials to produce new evidence that will address the knowledge gaps.

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