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J Pediatr. 1998 Feb;132(2):295-9.

Interleukin-6 concentrations in neonates evaluated for sepsis.

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Children's Department, University Hospital of Trondheim and Institute of Cancer Research and Molecular Biology, University of Trondheim, Norway.



This study was performed to determine serum concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6) during bacterial infections in the first week of life and to evaluate the usefulness of IL-6 as a diagnostic test for perinatal bacterial infections, alone and in combination with C-reactive protein (CRP).


Blood was obtained from 241 newborn children on admission to the neonatal intensive care unit and at 3 to 4 days after admission. Both samples were analyzed for IL-6, CRP, and white blood cell count with differential.


Twenty-four newborns were classified as having an infection. Increased serum IL-6 levels were detected in infected compared with noninfected newborns on admission (p < 0.0001). Detection of IL-6 (> or = 20 pg/ml) alone yielded a sensitivity of 78%, a specificity of 71%, a positive predictive value of 40%, and a negative predictive value of 93%. A combined parameter of IL-6 (> or = 50 pg/ml) and CRP (> or = 10 mg/L) yielded a sensitivity of 96%, a specificity of 74%, a positive predictive value of 49%, and a negative predictive value of 99%.


Used in combination with CRP, IL-6 seems to be a valuable parameter in the early diagnosis of neonatal infections.

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