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Characteristics of late-onset sepsis in the NICU: does occupancy impact risk of infection?




Infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are vulnerable to a variety of infections, and occupancy in the unit may correlate with risk of infection.

Study Design:

A retrospective cohort of infants admitted to the NICUs between 1997 and 2014. Survival analysis was used to model the relative hazard of sepsis infection in relation to two measures of occupancy: 1) the average census and 2) proportion of infants <32 weeks gestation in the unit.


There were 446 (2.3%) lab-confirmed cases of bacterial or fungal sepsis, which steadily declined over time. For each additional percentage of infants <32 weeks gestation, there was an increased hazard of 2% (hazard ratio 1.02, 95% confidence interval: 1.00, 1.03) over their NICU hospitalization. Census was not associated with risk for infection.


During times of a greater proportion of infants <32 weeks gestation in the NICU, enhanced infection-control interventions may be beneficial to further reduce the incidence of infections.

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We thank Gina Moore, Christiana Care Health System, for her assistance with data abstraction and interpretation and Josh Kessler for his assistance in data collection. This work was supported by INBRE grant NIH-NIGMS (p20 BM103446).

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Correspondence to N D Goldstein.

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Goldstein, N., Eppes, S., Ingraham, B. et al. Characteristics of late-onset sepsis in the NICU: does occupancy impact risk of infection?. J Perinatol 36, 753–757 (2016).

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