Hospital-acquired neonatal infections in developing countries

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Hospital-born babies in developing countries are at increased risk of neonatal infections because of poor intrapartum and postnatal infection-control practices. We reviewed data from developing countries on rates of neonatal infections among hospital-born babies, range of pathogens, antimicrobial resistance, and infection-control interventions. Reported rates of neonatal infections were 3-20 times higher than those reported for hospital-born babies in industrialised countries. Klebsiella pneumoniae, other gram-negative rods (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas spp, Acinetobacter spp), and Staphylococcus aureus were the major pathogens among 11,471 bloodstream isolates reported. These infections can often present soon after birth. About 70% would not be covered by an empiric regimen of ampicillin and gentamicin, and many might be untreatable in resource-constrained environments. The associated morbidity, mortality, costs, and adverse effect on future health-seeking behaviour by communities pose barriers to improvement of neonatal outcomes in developing countries. Low-cost, "bundled" interventions using systems quality improvement approaches for improved infection control are possible, but should be supported by evidence in developing country settings.