Invasive Fungal Infections in Newborns and Current Management Strategies

Shilpa Hundalani; Mohan Pammi


Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2013;11(7):709-721. 

In This Article


The incidence of Candida infections is greatest in ELBW infants and is well demonstrated by a study from the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance system that evaluated 130,523 patients admitted to 128 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) between 1995 and 2004.[3] The annual incidence of candidemia per 1000 patient-days for infants increased with decreasing gestational age and birth weight as follows: 0.5 in infants >2500 g, 0.42 in infants 1501–2500 g, 0.9 in infants between 1001 and 1500 g and 3.51 in infants <1000 g. In this study, the overall incidence of Candida bloodstream infections was 1.53 per 1000 patient-days among infants admitted to the NICU.[3]Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis were the causative agents in 6 and 4% of first episodes of late-onset sepsis, following coagulase negative Staphylococcus (48%) and Staphylococcus aureus (8%) in frequency.[3]C. albicans was the most commonly isolated Candida species (60%) followed by C. parapsilosis (34%) in the 1997 identified cases of Candida bloodstream infections. Other Candida species included Candida tropicalis, Candida lusitaniae, Candida glabrata and Candida krusei isolated in 4, 2, 2 and <1% of cases, respectively.[3] In another prospective study of 19 NICUs, invasive candidiasis (defined as a positive culture from a normally sterile fluid, such as blood, urine and cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]) occurred in 9% of 1515 ELBW infants (birth weight <1000 g).[1] The rates of candidemia vary tenfold among tertiary care NICUs across the world, and it is possible that differences in clinical practice such as use of third-generation cephalosporins, steroids and gastric acid reducing agents, and feeding practices contribute to this wide range of incidence.[4,5]

A change in the distribution of Candida species causing candidemia has been noted in several institutions with increasing isolation of non-Albicans species in neonates.[6]C. parapsilosis is the second most commonly isolated Candida species, accounting for a quarter to a third of systemic neonatal Candida infections.[3,7] In a review of neonatal C. parapsilosis infections, it comprised a third of all Candida infections with an associated mortality of approximately 10%.[8]C. parapsilosis predominantly presents as a bloodstream infection, mostly in association with a central venous catheter. Although the use of prophylactic fluconazole has not resulted in an increase in the incidence of C. glabrata in neonates, it is important to monitor the relative incidences of the different Candida species as fluconazole use increases in NICU patients.[9] Increased caspofungin use has also been associated with increased incidence of C. parapsilosis fungemia.[10]

Fungal infections other than those caused by Candida species, are uncommon in neonates. Nonetheless, non-Candida fungal infections occur in neonates resulting in significant mortality and morbidity. Similar to Candida infections, the incidence of non-Candida fungal infections in neonates appears to be increasing, particularly in premature infants.[11] Table 1 reviews invasive fungal infections in neonates including the uncommon fungal infections.[1,11–33]