Serious infections are rare in well-appearing neonates with hypothermia identified incidentally at routine visits

Am J Emerg Med. 2023 Mar;65:1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2022.12.008. Epub 2022 Dec 13.


Objectives: It is not established whether diagnostic testing and antimicrobial treatment are warranted in well-appearing neonates without other signs or symptoms who have hypothermia identified incidentally at a routine visit with their primary care provider.

Methods: This was a retrospective observational study of well-appearing neonates who were noted at a routine visit to be hypothermic (<97.7°F or <36.5°C) and referred to a pediatric emergency department over an 8.5-year period. Excluded were those transferred from an outside hospital and those with signs of illness, including apnea, bradycardia, fever, hypoglycemia, ill appearance, lethargy, poor feeding, respiratory distress, tachycardia, or vomiting. Patient characteristics, laboratory results, antimicrobial treatment, and clinical outcomes were recorded.

Results: Among a final cohort of 212 neonates with incidental hypothermia, no urine (n = 195) or blood (n = 198) culture grew a bacterial pathogen. No CSF culture (n = 168) grew a bacterial pathogen and no CSF PCR test (n = 142) was positive for herpes simplex virus. Contaminants were isolated in 3 urine and 3 blood cultures.

Conclusion: Well-appearing neonates with incidentally noted hypothermia at a routine visit are at low risk for serious infection and may not warrant a full sepsis evaluation.

Keywords: Neonatal hypothermia; Sepsis; Serious infection.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Child
  • Fever
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis*