Infections and Antibiotic Therapy in Surgical Newborn Infants

  • Hendrik K. F. van Saene
  • Nia Taylor
  • Shijie Cai
  • Nicola Reilly
  • Andy Petros
  • Stephen C. Donnell


Colonisation of the gastro-intestinal tract of newborn infants starts immediately after birth and occurs within a few days. Initially, the type of delivery (passage through the birth canal versus caesarean section) and the type of diet (breast versus formula feeding) might affect the colonisation pattern. Nearly all full-term, formula-fed, vaginally delivered infants were colonised with anaerobic bacteria within 4–6 days. 61% harboured Bacteroides fragilis. In contrast, anaerobes were present in 59% and B. fragilis in only 9% of infants delivered by caesarean section, suggesting that significant contamination occurred during passage through the birth canal. Both prematurity and breast feeding reduced the likelihood of isolating anaerobic species. Enterococci were isolated from all neonates, Escherichia coli from 82.6%, anaerobic cocci from 52.2% and both streptococci and staphylococci from 34.8%. Colonisation of the small bowel occurs perorally. In newborn infants with congenital small bowel obstruction, a faecal-type flora is found immediately proximal to the site of obstruction, and the distal bowel remains sterile.


Infection Newborns Sepsis Antibiotics Selective decontamination of the digestive tract (SDD) 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hendrik K. F. van Saene
    • 1
  • Nia Taylor
    • 1
  • Shijie Cai
    • 2
  • Nicola Reilly
    • 3
  • Andy Petros
    • 4
  • Stephen C. Donnell
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Ageing and Chronic DiseaseUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Radcliffe Department of MedicineUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Department of PharmacyAlder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation TrustLiverpoolUK
  4. 4.Paediatric Intensive Care UnitLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of Paediatric SurgeryUniversity Hospital of the North Midlands and Alder Hey Children’s HospitalLiverpool, MerseysideUK

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