AIIMS paper on Neonatal sepsis: Important Facts

The Doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have published a paper ‘Neonatal Sepsis in South Asia: Huge burden and spiralling antimicrobial resistance’, in the British Medical Journal.
Neonatal sepsis is a type of neonatal infection that occurs in an infant younger than 90 days old. It is an invasive infection usually bacterial.

Key findings in the research paper

The important findings in the research paper are:

  • India has a high instance of neonatal sepsis within the first month of birth than anywhere else in the world and several of those infected dies due to the failure of antibiotics against lethal bugs.
  • 16 per thousand live births in India are infected with confirmed neonatal sepsis and one-third of them die due to unavailability of drugs to fight the infections.
  • About 62 per cent of infections in South Asia occurs within the first 72 hours when compared to an incidence rate of 9.8 per thousand live births which are 10-fold higher than in the US.
  • The cause of worry is the babies acquire these infections from mothers who have been subjected to unhygienic practices in the labour rooms and neonatal intensive units of the hospitals.
  • This high instance of Neonatal sepsis is attributed to antibiotic overuse.
  • The research paper also notes that poor lab support coupled with the difficulty in obtaining adequate blood from babies results in difficulty in confirming the presence of infection, as a result of which they fall off the radar.
  • The study highlights that South Asia has majority occurrence of gram-negative organisms such as Klebsiella, e.coli and Acinetobacter isolated from hospital settings, which are known to cause more deaths than gram-positive organisms found in Western countries.
  • Drugs of last resort crbapenem and colistin are also failing to deliver due to the rise in resistant bugs.

The study notes that since the choice of drugs for treating babies has increasingly narrowed over the last ten years, it is posing a challenge for health care professionals.

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