Objective: To estimate the incidence of neonatal septicaemia, and to identify risk factors, clinical presentations and causal organisms.
Design: A cross-sectional study.
Setting: Neonatal Care Unit, University Paediatric Unit, Colombo North Teaching Hospital.
Subjects: Neonates admitted from January to December 1996 with clinical evidence of septicaemia.
Method: Gestational age, birth weight and mode of delivery were evaluated as risk factors for septicaemia. Although diagnosis of septicaemia was made on clinical grounds, blood cultures were performed in all babies. Data was analysed by using Epi Info version 6.
Results: 98 babies had septicaemia. Incidence of septicaemia was 24.4 per 1000 live births and case fatality rate was 11.2%. Incidence was significantly higher in preterm babies, babies with low birth weight (LBW) and those born following instrumental delivery. 21.4% developed septicaemia on the first day of life, 74.5% between 2 and 7 days and 4.1% after the first week. Common presenting features were fever 61.2%, jaundice 52%, lethargy 37.8% refusal of feeds 25.5%, coffee grounds vomiting 22.4%, and fits 12.2%. Common bacteria identified were Klebsiella 26.5%, Staphylococcus aureus 15.3%, coliform bacilli 9.2% and spore forming bacilli 9.2%. Common sensitive antibiotics were amikacin 88.9%, amoxycillin + clavulanic acid 83%, ceftriaxone 78.1% and netilmicin 63.9%.
Conclusions: Septicaemia is an important cause of morbidity, particularly in preterm babies, in babies with LBW and those with instrumentation at birth. The high incidence of late onset septicaemia together with the findings of Klebsiella and Staphylococcus aureus as common and resistant pathogens for septicaemia indicate that the majority were nosocomial infections.