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Keywords:

  • bacteria;
  • blood culture;
  • neonate;
  • septicaemia

Aim:  Sepsis is a major contributor to newborn deaths in the developing world. The objective is to determine the prevalence of newborn sepsis, the bacterial pathogens and antibiotic sensitivity pattern of the isolates.

Method:  A study of consecutive babies hospitalised in Sagamu, Nigeria, with risk factors for or clinical features of sepsis was retrospectively done between January 2006 and December 2007, and prospectively between January and December 2008. Positive blood culture defined neonatal sepsis, and the antibiotic sensitivity pattern of the organisms was also determined.

Results:  There were 1050 admissions, and 174 (16.5%) babies had positive blood culture. Of the 527 babies with risk factors and clinical features of sepsis, 174 (33.3%) had confirmed sepsis: 119 (22.5%) had early-onset sepsis, while 55 (10.4%) had late-onset sepsis. The incidence of neonatal sepsis in the hospital was 51.3/1000 live births. Weight less than 1.5 kg, prolonged labour, prolonged rupture of membranes and lower socio-economic status were risk factors for sepsis. Staphylococcus aureus (31.0%), Klebsiella (23.0%), and coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (12.6%) and Escherichia coli (11.0%) were the leading aetiologies. The isolates were most sensitive to levofloxacin (95.7%), ofloxacin (95.1%), cefotaxime (86.7%) and ceftazidime (81.3%). Their sensitivity was 56.4% to cefuroxime and gentamicin, which are commonly used.

Conclusion:  The prevalence of sepsis was high in this cohort of high-risk infants. The low in vitro sensitivity of the leading microbes to commonly used drugs is challenging. Guidelines on the reduction of emergence of drug resistance must be provided and instituted in newborn units.