Multicentre study found that adherence to national antibiotic recommendations for neonatal early-onset sepsis was low

Bo M. van der Weijden, Niek B. Achten, Jolita Bekhof, Esther E. Evers, Mylène Berk, Arvid W. A. Kamps, Maarten Rijpert, Gavin W. ten Tusscher, Marlies A. van Houten, Frans B. Plötz

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Aim: Our aim was to evaluate adherence to the Dutch neonatal early-onset sepsis (EOS) guidelines, adapted from UK guidance. We also looked at the effect on antibiotic recommendations and duration. Method: This was a multicentre, prospective observational cross-sectional study carried out in seven hospitals in the Netherlands between 1 September 2018 and 1 November 2019. We enrolled 1024 neonates born at 32 weeks of gestation or later if they demonstrated at least one EOS risk factor or clinical signs of infection. Results: The Dutch guidelines recommended antibiotic treatment for 438/1024 (42.8%) of the neonates designated at risk, but only 186/438 (42.5%) received antibiotics. The guidelines advised withholding antibiotics for 586/1024 (57.2%) of neonates and in 570/586 (97.3%) cases the clinicians adhered to this recommendation. Blood cultures were obtained for 182/186 (97.8%) infants who started antibiotics and only four were positive, for group B streptococci. Antibiotic treatment was continued for more than 3 days in 56/178 (31.5%) neonates, despite a negative blood culture. Conclusion: Low adherence to the Dutch guidelines meant that the majority of neonates did not receive the antibiotic treatment that was recommended, while some antibiotic use was prolonged despite negative blood cultures. The guidelines need to be revised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-798
Number of pages8
JournalActa paediatrica (Oslo, Norway
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • adherence
  • antibiotic treatment
  • early-onset sepsis
  • guidelines
  • neonates

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