Short course versus 7-day course of intravenous antibiotics for probable neonatal septicemia: A pilot, open-label, randomized controlled trial
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OBJECTIVE: To compare a short course of antibiotics (48 to 96 hours) and a standard course of antibiotics (7 days) for probable neonatal sepsis. DESIGN: Randomized, controlled, open-labeled trial with blocking and stratification according to birth weight. SETTING: Tertiary care, referral, teaching hospital in Northern India. PARTICIPANTS: Neonates >30 wks gestation and >1000 g at birth, with probable sepsis (clinical signs of sepsis, raised C reactive protein) were enrolled. Babies with major malformations, severe birth asphyxia, meningitis, bone or joint or deep-seated infection, those who were already on antibiotics, and those undergoing surgery were excluded. Neonates, who had clinically remitted on antibiotic therapy by the time a sterile blood culture report was received were randomized. INTERVENTION: In the intervention arm, antibiotics were stopped after the 48 hour culture was reported sterile. In the control arm, antibiotics were continued to a total of 7 days. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Treatment failure defined as reappearance of signs suggestive of sepsis within 15 days of stopping antibiotics, supported by laboratory evidence and adjudicated by a blinded expert committee. RESULTS: 52 neonates were randomized to receive a short course or 7 day course (n=26 each). Baseline variables were balanced in the 2 groups. There was no significant difference in the treatment failures between the 2 groups (3 babies in the 7-day group vs none in short course group, P=0.23). CONCLUSION: No difference in the treatment failure rates could be identified between short course and 7-day groups among neonates >30 weeks and > 1000 grams with probable sepsis.
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