Epidemiology of Early and Late Onset Neonatal Sepsis in Very Low Birthweight Infants: Data from the German Neonatal Network

Natascha Köstlin-Gille, Christoph Härtel, Clara Haug, Wolfgang Göpel, Michael Zemlin, Andreas Müller, Christian F. Poets, Egbert Herting, Christian Gille*

*Corresponding author for this work


Background: Sepsis is a major cause of death in neonates. Knowledge about epidemiology, risk factors, causative pathogens and outcome of neonatal sepsis is important to improve neonatal care. For Germany, only few data on neonatal sepsis in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants exist. Methods: Data from 14,926 preterm infants with birth weight <1500 g and gestational age between 22 0/7 weeks and 31 6/7 collected between January 2009 and December 2017 were analyzed for frequency of early-onset sepsis (EOS) and late-onset sepsis (LOS) and for causative pathogens. Risk factors for the development of EOS and LOS and outcomes after EOS and LOS were analyzed by multivariate logistic regression models. Results: EOS occurred in 1.1% of infants and LOS in 11.9%. Escherichia coli was the most common pathogen in EOS, coagulase-negative staphylococci in LOS. Multidrug-resistant organisms were detected in 8.4% of EOS and 3.9% of LOS cases. Risk factors for EOS were lower gestational age, intra-amniotic infection and spontaneous delivery. Risk factors for LOS were lower gestational age, small for gestational age, central lines, endotracheal ventilation and history of EOS. Both EOS and LOS were independently associated with adverse neonatal outcome. Conclusions: These data from a large German neonatal cohort confirm neonatal sepsis as the most common cause of morbidity and mortality in VLBW infants, as well as E. coli and coagulase-negative staphylococci as the most prevalent pathogens. Multidisciplinary approaches such as antibiotic stewardship, hygiene and feeding strategies are necessary to further reduce the burden of sepsis in VLBW infants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number002976
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)255-259
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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