Appropriate and timely antibiotic administration for neonatal sepsis in Mesoamérica

Published May 24, 2018, in BMJ Global Health (opens in a new window)


Neonatal sepsis is a leading cause of mortality among children under 5 in Latin America. The Salud Mesoamérica Initiative (SMI), a multi-country results-based aid program, was designed to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in impoverished communities in Mesoamérica. This study examines the delivery of timely and appropriate antibiotics for neonatal sepsis among facilities participating in the SMI project. A multifaceted health facility survey was implemented at SMI inception and approximately 18 months later as a follow-up. A random sample of medical records from neonates diagnosed with sepsis was reviewed, and data regarding antibiotic administration were extracted. In this paper, we present the percentage of patients who received timely (within two hours) and appropriate antibiotics. Multilevel logistic regression was used to assess for potential facility-level determinants of timely and appropriate antibiotic treatment. Among 821 neonates diagnosed with sepsis in 63 facilities, 61.8% received an appropriate antibiotic regimen, most commonly ampicillin plus an aminoglycoside. Within two hours of presentation, 32.3% received any antibiotic and only 26.6% received an appropriate regimen within that time. Antibiotic availability improved over the course of the SMI project, increasing from 27.5% at baseline to 64.0% at follow-up, and it was highly correlated with timely and appropriate antibiotic administration (adjusted OR=5.36, 95% CI 2.85 to 10.08). However, we also found a decline in the percentage of neonates documented to have received appropriate antibiotics (74.4% versus 51.1%). Our study demonstrated early success of the SMI project through improvements in the availability of appropriate antibiotic regimens for neonatal sepsis. At the same time, overall rates of timely and appropriate antibiotic administration remain low, and the next phase of the initiative will need to address other barriers to the provision of life-saving antibiotic treatment for neonatal sepsis.

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Duber HC, Hartford EA, Schaefer AMJohanns CK, Colombara DV, Iriarte E, Palmisano EB, Rios-Zertuche D, Hernandez-Prado B, Mokdad AH. Appropriate and timely antibiotic administration for neonatal sepsis in MesoaméricaBMJ Global Health. 2018;3:e000650. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000650.