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Treatment and prevention of bacterial sepsis in the preterm infant (<34 weeks gestation)

Leonard E Weisman, MD
Mohan Pammi, MD, PhD
Section Editors
Joseph A Garcia-Prats, MD
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Neonatal sepsis remains a major cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity in preterm and very low birth weight (VLBW) infants [1-5]. Clinical care providers should have a high index of suspicion to diagnose infections in preterm and VLBW infants. Delay in initiation of appropriate antibiotic therapy can worsen clinical outcomes. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of bacterial sepsis in the preterm infant (<34 weeks gestation)".)

The management of neonatal sepsis in preterm infants is reviewed here. The clinical features and diagnosis of sepsis in preterm infants, and the treatment of neonatal sepsis in term and late preterm infants are discussed separately. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of bacterial sepsis in the preterm infant (<34 weeks gestation)" and "Management and outcome of sepsis in term and late preterm infants".)

In addition, there are separate topics on nosocomial viral infections and the management of candidal infections in the newborn. (See "Nosocomial viral infections in the neonatal intensive care unit" and "Treatment of Candida infection in neonates".)


The following terms will be used throughout this topic:

Preterm infants are those born at less than 34 weeks gestation.

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 26, 2017.
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