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OBJECTIVE: We sought to compare the incidence of early-onset sepsis (EOS) in infants ≥34 weeks' gestation identified >24 hours after birth, in hospitals using the Kaiser Permanente Sepsis Risk Calculator (SRC) with hospitals using the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance. DESIGN AND SETTING: Prospective observational population-wide cohort study involving all 26 hospitals with neonatal units colocated with maternity services across London (10 using SRC, 16 using NICE). PARTICIPANTS: All live births ≥34 weeks' gestation between September 2020 and August 2021. OUTCOME MEASURES: EOS was defined as isolation of a bacterial pathogen in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture from birth to 7 days of age. We evaluated the incidence of EOS identified by culture obtained >24 hours to 7 days after birth. We also evaluated the rate empiric antibiotics were commenced >24 hours to 7 days after birth, for a duration of ≥5 days, with negative blood or CSF cultures. RESULTS: Of 99 683 live births, 42 952 (43%) were born in SRC hospitals and 56 731 (57%) in NICE hospitals. The overall incidence of EOS (<72 hours) was 0.64/1000 live births. The incidence of EOS identified >24 hours was 2.3/100 000 (n=1) for SRC vs 7.1/100 000 (n=4) for NICE (OR 0.5, 95% CI (0.1 to 2.7)). This corresponded to (1/20) 5% (SRC) vs (4/45) 8.9% (NICE) of EOS cases (χ=0.3, p=0.59). Empiric antibiotics were commenced >24 hours to 7 days after birth in 4.4/1000 (n=187) for SRC vs 2.9/1000 (n=158) for NICE (OR 1.5, 95% CI (1.2 to 1.9)). 3111 (7%) infants received antibiotics in the first 24 hours in SRC hospitals vs 8428 (15%) in NICE hospitals. CONCLUSION: There was no significant difference in the incidence of EOS identified >24 hours after birth between SRC and NICE hospitals. SRC use was associated with 50% fewer infants receiving antibiotics in the first 24 hours of life.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





Epidemiology, Neonatal intensive & critical care, Paediatric infectious disease & immunisation, Infant, Newborn, Infant, Humans, Female, Pregnancy, Neonatal Sepsis, Cohort Studies, Prospective Studies, London, Risk Assessment, Sepsis, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors