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Pediatrics. 2019 Aug;144(2). pii: e20183964. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-3964.

Serious Bacterial Infections in Neonates Presenting Afebrile With History of Fever.

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Divisions of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and
Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Divisions of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and.



Infants ≤28 days of age with fever are frequently hospitalized while undergoing infectious evaluation. We assessed differences in rates of serious bacterial infection (SBI; bacteremia, bacterial meningitis, urinary tract infection) and invasive bacterial infection (IBI; bacteremia, bacterial meningitis) among the following neonates: (1) febrile at presentation (FP), (2) afebrile with history of fever without subsequent fever during hospitalization, and (3) afebrile with history of fever with subsequent fever during hospitalization.


We performed a single-center retrospective study of neonates evaluated for SBI during emergency department evaluation between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2017. Patients were categorized into FP, afebrile with no subsequent fever (ANF), and afebrile with subsequent fever (ASF) groups. We compared rates of SBI and IBI between groups using logistic regression and assessed time to fever development using time-to-event analysis.


Of 931 neonates, 278 (29.9%) were in the ANF group, 93 (10.0%) were in the ASF group, and 560 (60.2%) were in the FP group. Odds of SBI in neonates ANF were 0.42 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.23-0.79) compared with infants FP, although differences in IBI were not statistically significant (0.52, 95% CI 0.19-1.51). In infants ASF, median time to fever was 5.6 hours (interquartile range, 3.1-11.4). Infants ASF had higher odds of SBI compared to infants FP (odds ratio 1.93, 95% CI 1.07-3.50).


Neonates with history of fever who remain afebrile during hospitalization may have lower odds for SBI and be candidates for early discharge after an observation period.


Conflict of interest statement

POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

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