Objective: To examine regional variations in the incidence of late-onset neonatal infections in Australian and New Zealand neonatal units.
Methodology: A longitudinal, prospective surveillance study of systemic sepsis (septicaemia or meningitis) in 11 neonatal units: 10 in the Australian States of the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, and 1 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The results are reported of late-onset neonatal infection (defined as sepsis after 48 h) for the second year of prospective surveillance, data being collected from 1 October 1992 to 30 September 1993.
Results: Data were available on 24535 live births in Australia, representing approximately 10% of all live births in the country. There were 320 episodes of sepsis in Australian units affecting 294 babies. One hundred of these episodes (31%) were early-onset; 3.0% of babies admitted to six tertiary care neonatal units attached to maternity hospitals developed late sepsis, and this rate did not differ between units. The proportion of babies infected was inversely related to birthweight: 22.6% of babies under 1OOOg, but 0.6% over 2000g. Coagulase negative staphylococci were the commonest cause of late-onset sepsis. There were 26 episodes of S. aureus septicaemia, of which only one was due to MRSA. Meningitis occurred in 13 babies (5.9%) with late-onset sepsis. The mortality from late-onset sepsis was 7.7%.
Conclusions: Coagulase-negative staphylococci are the commonest cause of late-onset sepsis of babies in neonatal units. There were no major regional differences in the incidence of, or the organisms causing, late sepsis.