Get access

Streptococcus pneumoniae sepsis in the newborn


  • Potential Conflict of Interest: RRD is a member of a pneumococcal vaccines advisory committee (Prevenar, Wyeth).

Dr Atul Malhotra, Monash Newborn, Monash Medical Centre, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Melbourne, Vic. 3168, Australia. Fax: +61 39594 6115; email:


Background: Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP) is an uncommon cause of neonatal sepsis.

Aims:  To report on the spectrum of morbidity associated with SP infections in the neonatal period.

Methods:  A case series of SP infection in the neonatal period was studied. Maternal and neonatal outcomes were noted.

Results:  Four cases of neonatal SP infection are reported, one of which was due to a strain with reduced susceptibility to penicillin. All four cases had very early onset of severe clinical disease with bacteremia and pneumonia. In one case a retrospective diagnosis of meningitis was made as well. Maternal illness was a feature in one of these infants.

Conclusions:  Although less common now than in the pre-antibiotic era, Streptococcus pneumoniae remains a rare but important cause of neonatal sepsis and can mimic early onset Group B streptococcal sepsis. It is unclear whether current infant or adult pneumococcal immunisation programs might influence its incidence in the neonatal period. The potential for strains with reduced susceptibility to β-lactam antibiotics to cause neonatal infection needs to be considered in relevant settings.