What causes early-onset neonatal sepsis?

Updated: Jun 13, 2019
  • Author: Nathan S Gollehon, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Muhammad Aslam, MD  more...
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The microorganisms most commonly associated with early-onset neonatal sepsis include the following [1] :

Risk factors implicated in neonatal sepsis reflect the level stress and illness experienced by the fetus at delivery, as well as the hazardous uterine environment surrounding the fetus before delivery. The most common risk factors associated with early-onset neonatal sepsis include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Maternal GBS colonization (particularly in the setting of inadequate prophylactic treatment)

  • Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)

  • Preterm rupture of membranes

  • Prolonged rupture of membranes

  • Premature birth

  • Maternal urinary tract infection (UTI)

  • Maternal fever greater than 38ºC (100.4ºF)

Other factors that are associated with or predispose to early-onset sepsis include the following [18, 19] :

  • Low Apgar score (< 6 at 1 or 5 minutes)

  • Poor prenatal care

  • Poor maternal nutrition

  • Low socioeconomic status

  • Black mother

  • History of recurrent abortion

  • Maternal substance abuse

  • Low birth weight

  • Difficult delivery

  • Birth asphyxia

  • Meconium staining

  • Congenital anomalies

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