Prevention of neonatal late-onset sepsis: a randomised controlled trial

Late-onset sepsis (LOS), defined as sepsis occurring after 48 h of age causes substantial mortality and morbidity in very low birth weight infants. Risk factors for LOS include immaturity, intravascular catheters, mechanical ventilation, and prolonged parenteral nutrition (PN). Little attention has been paid to studying the effects of PN administration methods. The aim of the study was to compare a bundle of measures for PN line management incorporating a strict aseptic technique with standard line management on LOS in very low birth weight infants.

Infants <1500 g birth weight who required PN were randomised to either a bundle of a strict aseptic technique for line management together with single use intravascular catheter for PN or a standard technique. The primary outcome was the incidence of LOS in the first 28 days of life. Secondary outcomes were mortality, neonatal morbidities and developmental outcome at 12 months of age.

There were 126 infants in the aseptic technique group and 123 in the standard technique group. Forty (31.8%) infants in the aseptic technique group and 36 (29.3%) in the standard technique group had an episode of sepsis (p = 0.77). This corresponds to incidences of 15.8 and 14.2 episodes of sepsis per 1000 patient days respectively. Subgroup analyses for infants <1000 g also revealed no difference in the rate of sepsis between the intervention and control groups. (p = 0.43). There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes and development between the groups.

A bundle of measures including strict aseptic technique for parenteral nutrition line management did not result in a reduction in LOS when compared to a standard technique. There is no evidence to recommend this as routine practice.

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