Neonatal sepsis in low-income countries: epidemiology, diagnosis and prevention Academic Article uri icon

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  • Introduction: Sepsis accounts for up to one-third of neonatal deaths in the world each year. The World Health Organization acknowledges neonatal sepsis as a major global health concern, and that the highest burden occurs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Despite major research and clinical progress in this area, we still lack accurate diagnostic tools for neonatal sepsis, complicating the management of this condition.Areas covered: The purpose here is to review the latest data on the incidence, diagnosis, prevention, and management of neonatal sepsis in LMIC. We discuss the limitations of current diagnostic tests - including their lack of availability - and how this may influence global estimates of cases. We review the benefits of antenatal, intrapartum, and post-natal preventive measures. We briefly discuss the management, highlighting the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Finally, we expose some high priority areas.Expert opinion: Neonatal sepsis is a challenging condition requiring a multifaceted approach to address the major diagnostic issues, but also the underlying socio-economic causes that nourish epidemic cases in LMIC. Focusing on antibiotics as a main pillar of intervention is likely to engender antimicrobial resistance, eventually hindering the appreciable gains LMICs have achieved in neonatal health outcomes.


  • Popescu, Constantin Radu
  • Cavanagh, Miranda MM
  • Tembo, Bentry
  • Chiume, Msandeni
  • Lufesi, Norman
  • Goldfarb, David
  • Kissoon, Niranjan
  • Lavoie, Pascal M

publication date

  • May 3, 2020