Background: Serial C-reactive protein (CRP) measurements have been shown to be useful for guiding duration of antibiotic therapy in neonates. This study sought to determine whether this is a safe and practical approach in a developing country.
Methods: The study was conducted at the Johannesburg Hospital between September 15, 1998, and January 15, 1999. Subjects included all neonates evaluated for suspected sepsis in the first 24 h of life who had negative initial and repeat CRP values (< or = 10 mg/l) [corrected]. Repeat CRP measurements were performed between 24 and 48 h after birth. Antibiotic therapy was stopped in these infants at 24 to 48 h, and they were observed until 72 h, when the final blood culture results were available. The number of positive blood cultures in this group was determined.
Results: The repeat CRP estimation correctly identified 99 of 100 infants in the study as not requiring further antibiotic therapy (negative predictive value, 99%; 95% confidence intervals, 95.6 to 99.97%). The 1 infant with a positive blood culture was premature with a gestational age of 31 weeks. Eight babies required repeat evaluation for suspected sepsis, 4 presented on Day 3 to 4 and one of these babies died. All these neonates were of < or =33 weeks gestation.
Conclusion: The use of serial CRP measurements to guide antibiotic therapy is a safe and practical approach in neonates with suspected sepsis in a developing country.