Use of antibacterial agents in the neonate: 50 years of experience with vancomycin administration

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2013 Feb;18(1):28-34. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2012.10.003. Epub 2012 Nov 6.


Neonatal sepsis, classified as either early or late onset, has specific pathogen distribution and infection rates in the different neonatal age groups. It is a major cause of mortality and morbidity and administration of antibiotics is urgently required for suspected or proven infection. Vancomycin is the first choice treatment of late onset sepsis due to resistant staphylococci. Although it has been used for more than 50 years, prescription remains a challenge in neonatal intensive care units for many reasons, including: high pharmacokinetic variability, numerous presentations, lack of consensus on dosing regimen and therapeutic drug monitoring. In addition, recent concerns about the increase in minimal inhibition concentration and other more generic problems have prompted reappraisal of the rational use of vancomycin. This article highlights the goal of optimising vancomycin therapy in the neonate and discusses future research directions. Specific attention is given to dosing optimisation of vancomycin to avoid resistance and maximise the likelihood of achieving the therapeutic target. Modelling and simulation approaches have clear advantages in dosing optimisation of antimicrobial agents in the neonate. Neonatologists and paediatric pharmacologists should work closely together to achieve this goal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin