Clinical and laboratory factors that predict death in very low birth weight infants presenting with late-onset sepsis

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2014 Feb;33(2):143-6. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000000024.


Background: Late-onset sepsis (LOS) in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The ability to predict mortality in infants with LOS based on clinical and laboratory factors at presentation of illness remains limited.

Objectives: To identify predictors of sepsis-associated mortality from a composite risk profile that includes demographic data, category of infecting organism, clinical and laboratory data at onset of illness.

Study design: Data were collected from VLBW infants with at least 1 episode of LOS admitted to Yale Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from 1989 through 2007. Episodes were categorized as Gram-positive, Gram-negative or fungal. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to compare and contrast different types of infections and to assess independent risk factors for death.

Results: Four hundred twenty-four cases of LOS were identified in 424 VLBW infants. Of these, 262 (62%) were categorized as Gram-positive, 126 (30%) as Gram-negative and 36 (8%) as fungal. Multivariate analyses revealed that infants with Gram-positive infections had significantly lower odds of death compared to those with Gram-negative (adjusted odds ratio: 0.17; 95% confidence interval: 0.08-0.36) or fungal LOS (adjusted odds ratio: 0.22; 95% confidence interval: 0.07-0.64). Need for intubation, initiation of pressors, hypoglycemia and thrombocytopenia as presenting laboratory signs of infection and necrotizing enterocolitis were independent risk factors for sepsis-related death.

Conclusions: We identified presenting clinical and laboratory factors, including category of infecting organism, which predict the increased risk of LOS-related death. This information can be useful in estimating prognosis shortly after the onset of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / blood*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / diagnosis
  • Sepsis / mortality*