Safety of physical examination alone for managing well-appearing neonates ≥35 weeks gestation at risk for early-onset sepsis

Alberto Berardi, Sara Fornaciari, Cecilia Rossi, Viviana Patianna, Maria Letizia Bacchi Reggiani, Filippo Ferrari, Isabella Neri, Fabrizio Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The published data to support recommendations for prevention and management of well-appearing at-risk newborns (WAARNs) for early-onset sepsis (EOS) are limited.Methods: Retrospective cohort study comparing two different strategies for managing WAARNs (≥35 weeks gestation) during a 6-year period (Period 1, from 2005 to 2007; Period 2, from 2009 to 2011). WAARNs were defined as healthy-appearing neonates evaluated because of risk factors for EOS. Laboratory evaluation plus simplified physical examination (Period 1) was compared with physical examination alone (PEA, Period 2). The use of antibiotics, the length of stay, the timeliness of diagnosis and the risk of falling ill immediately after hospital discharge in both periods were also compared.Results: WAARNs receiving empirical antibiotics were 14/500 (Period 1) and 3/500 (Period 2, p = 0.01). Median length of stay was 4 (Period 1) and 3 days (Period 2, p = 0.04). Symptoms of EOS were earlier than laboratory evaluation results in 42/44 neonates. Severe disease was diagnosed within 6 h of life in all neonates. No WAARNs presented with EOS following hospital discharge.Conclusions: WAARNs managed through PEA received less unnecessary antibiotics and had a shorter length of stay. They had no increased risk of severe complications or increased risk of becoming ill following hospital discharge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1127
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jul 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Group B Streptococcus
  • intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis
  • management
  • neonatal sepsis
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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