Suspected sepsis is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in neonates. In a population-based surveillance study from 2005 to 2008, researchers estimated that 3300 cases of early-onset sepsis (EOS) occur in the United States each year, with 390 of these cases resulting in death. The risk is highest in preterm neonates, which account for 1570 of the 3300 cases and 360 deaths. Despite its prevalence, though, identifying patients with sepsis, determining causative organisms, and establishing a length of treatment remain a challenge for health care practitioners.

Sepsis in neonates can be classified as either early onset or late onset. No single definition for EOS exists, but most often it is described as infection of the bloodstream or meninges that occurs within the first 6 days of life. The most commonly implicated organisms are group B streptococci (GBS) and Escherichia...

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