Antimicrobial stewardship in neonates: Challenges and opportunities

Christopher McPherson, Caren Liviskie, Brandy Zeller, Miranda P. Nelson, Jason G. Newland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Neonatal infections result in significant morbidity and mortality. Antibiotics are vital for the treatment of infections but disrupt the neonatal microbiome, put the infant at risk for an adverse drug reaction, and may lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. Immediately after birth, clinicians must determine which infants require empiric antibiotics. Online risk stratification tools may provide a superior approach to decision trees. In infants who require empiric therapy for early-onset sepsis, ampicillin and an aminoglycoside with dosing based on recent pharmacokinetic studies represents the most appropriate first-line agents; third-generation cephalosporins should be reserved for patients with a high likelihood of Gram-negative meningitis. An antistaphylococcal penicillin and gentamicin should be utilized for suspected late-onset sepsis. Vancomycin and other broad-spectrum agents are reserved for patients with a history of resistant organisms. Antibiotic duration should be guided by understanding the clinical indications and obtaining the necessary cultures appropriately (i.e., adequate volume blood cultures). In the absence of a positive culture, antibiotic duration should often be limited. Individual institutions should leverage a multidisciplinary, interprofessional team to identify opportunities for antimicrobial stewardship. A collaborative, transparent system is required to change unit culture and generate a sustained impact on antibiotic utilization with optimal patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
JournalNeonatal Network
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • Antibiotics
  • Infectious diseases
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Neonatal sepsis
  • Resistant organisms


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