Increased incidence of sepsis at birth in neutropenic infants of mothers with preeclampsia

J Pediatr. 1994 Sep;125(3):452-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)83294-9.


Neutropenia is often found at birth in infants born to mothers with preeclampsia, and is most likely present in utero. To determine whether this neutropenia is associated with an increased incidence of early-onset sepsis, we reviewed the hospital records of 301 low birth weight infants of mothers with preeclampsia. Early-onset sepsis was proved if the result of a culture of blood or cerebrospinal fluid in the first 48 hours of life was positive, or presumed if culture results were negative but two or more clinical signs of sepsis were present and the attending neonatologist believed that an infant was infected and needed at least 7 days of antibiotic therapy. Forty-eight percent of low birth weight infants of mothers with preeclampsia had neutropenia at less than 12 hours of age. Infants with neutropenia had mothers with more severe preeclampsia, were more premature (30 weeks vs 32 weeks), weighed less (1097 gm vs 1615 gm), and were more likely to be small for gestational age. Although maternal and obstetric risk factors for infection were less common in the group with neutropenia, rates of proven or presumed early-onset sepsis were higher (14% vs 2%; p < 0.001). Sepsis was proved in 6% of infants with neutropenia and in none of the infants without neutropenia (p = 0.03). A logistic regression analysis of the relative effects of birth weight, gestational age, and absolute neutrophil count on the incidence of sepsis revealed that only a low absolute neutrophil count correlated significantly with an increased risk of early-onset sepsis in infants with neutropenia.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / complications*
  • Cause of Death
  • Chorioamnionitis / complications
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / complications
  • HELLP Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / blood
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Neutropenia / blood
  • Neutropenia / congenital*
  • Pre-Eclampsia*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate