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J Perinatol. 2011 Aug;31(8):514-8. doi: 10.1038/jp.2011.39. Epub 2011 May 5.

Antibiotic use for presumed neonatally acquired infections far exceeds that for central line-associated blood stream infections: an exploratory critique.

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David D Wirtschafter, MD, Inc., Valley Village, CA 91607, USA.



To assess antibiotic use as a complementary neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) infection measure to the central line-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI) rate.


Patient days (PDs), line days, antibiotic (AB) use, CLABSI and other proven infections were analyzed in consecutive admissions to two NICUs over 3 and 6 months, respectively, from 1 January 2008 until discharge. An antibiotic course (AC) consisted of one or more uninterrupted antibiotic days (AD), classified as perinatal or neonatal, if started ≤3 d or ≥4 d post birth and as rule-out sepsis or presumed infection (PI) if treated ≤4 d or ≥5d, respectively. Events were expressed per 1000 PD and aggregated by conventional treatment categories and by clinical perception of infection certainty: possible, presumed or proven.


The cohort included 754 patients, 18,345 PD, 6637 line days, 718 AC and 4553 AD. Of total antibiotic use, neonatal use constituted 39.2% of ACs, and 29.0% of ADs, When analyzed per 1000 PD, antibiotic use to treat PIs vs CLABSIs, was either 14 fold (CI 6.6-30) higher for ACs (5.40 vs 0.38/1000 PD, P<0.0001) or 8.8 fold (CI 7.1-11) higher for ADs (48.3 vs 5.5/1000 PD, P<0.0001).


CLABSI rates, present a lower limit of NICU-acquired infections, whereas antibiotic-use measures, about 10-fold higher, may estimate an upper limit of that burden. Antibiotic-use metrics should be evaluated further for their ability to broaden NICU infection assessment and to guide prevention and antibiotic stewardship efforts.

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