Impact of empiric antibiotic regimen on bowel colonization in neonates with suspected early onset sepsis

  • Ü. Parm
  • T. Metsvaht
  • E. Sepp
  • M.-L. Ilmoja
  • H. Pisarev
  • M. Pauskar
  • I. Lutsar


The purpose of this study was to compare the impact of ampicillin and penicillin used for empiric treatment of early onset sepsis (EOS) on initial gut colonization by aerobic and facultative anaerobic microorganisms. A cluster-randomized, two-center, switch-over study was conducted in two paediatric intensive care units in Estonia and included 276 neonates. Rectal swabs were collected twice a week until discharge or day 60. Colonizing microbes were identified on species level and tested for ampicillin resistance (AR). The number of patients colonized with Gram negative microorganisms and Candida spp was similar in both treatment arms but ampicillin resulted in longer colonization duration (CD) of K. pneumonia (p = 0.012), AR Serratia spp (p = 0.012) and Candida spp (p = 0.02) and penicillin in that of AR Acinetobacter spp (p = 0.001). As for Gram positive microorganisms penicillin treatment was associated with a greater number of colonized patients and higher CD of Enterococcus spp and S. aureus but lower ones of S. haemolyticus and S. hominis. Influence of ampicillin and penicillin on initial gut colonization is somewhat different but these differences are of low clinical relevance and should not be a limiting step when choosing between these two antibiotics for the empiric treatment of EOS.



The study was supported by Estonian Science Foundation Grant number 6984; Estonian Target Financing number 2726 and ESPID Small Grant Award. The authors are grateful to colleagues from both participating NICUs for their support and help in documenting all clinical decisions, as well as to head nurse Tiina Kilg and all nurses for their help in collecting samples. We would like to thank associated Professor Reet Mändar for her valuable remarks and suggestions while preparing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ü. Parm
    • 1
  • T. Metsvaht
    • 2
  • E. Sepp
    • 1
  • M.-L. Ilmoja
    • 3
  • H. Pisarev
    • 4
  • M. Pauskar
    • 1
  • I. Lutsar
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of MicrobiologyTartu UniversityTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Clinics of Anaesthesiology and Intensive CareUniversity Clinics of TartuTartuEstonia
  3. 3.Paediatric Intensive CareTallinn Children’s HospitalTallinnEstonia
  4. 4.Department of Public HealthTartu UniversityTartuEstonia

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