Systemic Candida infection in extremely low birth weight infants: short term morbidity and long term neurodevelopmental outcome

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2000 Jun;19(6):499-504. doi: 10.1097/00006454-200006000-00002.


Objective: To describe mortality, morbidity at discharge and neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years corrected age in extremely low birth weight infants with systemic Candida infection during intensive care stay.

Method: We identified all extremely low birth weight (birth weight <1000 g) infants diagnosed with Candida sepsis and/or meningoencephalitis between 1988 and mid-1996 in the tertiary neonatal intensive care centers of Toronto. The outcome of the infected infants at discharge and at 2 years corrected age was compared with a cohort of 470 extremely low birth weight infants born between 1990 and 1994.

Results: Forty-six extremely low birth weight infants with systemic Candida infection, mean (+/-SD) gestational age of 24.7 +/- 1.6 weeks and birth weight 699 +/- 135 g, were identified. Case fatality rate was 37% (17 of 46), not significantly different from the control group (35%). Data on 27 infected survivors were available at discharge. All had chronic lung disease compared with 33% in the control cases (P = 0.0001), a high incidence of periventricular leukomalacia (26% vs. 12%, P = 0.06) and an increase in severe retinopathy of prematurity (22% vs. 9%, P = 0.04); 60% had adverse neurologic outcomes at 2 years corrected age compared with 35% in the control group, and 41% vs. 12% had severe disabilities (P = 0.005). Cranial ultrasound examination was the only diagnostic modality in 5 of 13 (38%) cases with central nervous system Candida involvement. All infants with brain parenchymal lesions detected by cranial ultrasound had poor outcome. Early diagnosis and commencement of antifungal treatment favorably affected the outcome.

Conclusions: Systemic Candida infection is associated with increased short and long term morbidity in extremely low birth weight infants. Candida infection of the central nervous system has a significant impact on long term neurodevelopmental outcome. Performance of cranial ultrasound examination is recommended as a part of the diagnostic investigation in these infants. Detection of brain parenchymal involvement might provide further information to predict outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Candidiasis / complications*
  • Candidiasis / epidemiology
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Male
  • Morbidity