Surgery-Associated Infections among Infants Born Extremely Preterm

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the burden of invasive infection following surgery (surgery-associated infections [SAI]) among infants born extremely premature. Study design: This was an observational, prospective study of infants born at gestational age 22-28 weeks hospitalized for >3 days, between April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2015, in academic centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. SAI was defined by culture-confirmed bacteremia, fungemia, or meningitis ≤14 days following a surgical procedure. Results: Of 6573 infants, 1154 (18%) who underwent surgery were of lower gestational age (mean [SD]: 25.5 [1.6] vs 26.2 [1.6], P <.001), lower birth weight (803 [220] vs 886 [244], P <.001), and more likely to have a major birth defect (10% vs 3%, P <.001); 64% had 1 surgery (range 1-10 per infant). Most underwent gastrointestinal procedures (873, 76%) followed by central nervous system procedures (150, 13%). Eighty-five (7%) infants had 90 SAIs (78 bacteremia, 5 fungemia, 1 bacteremia and meningitis, 6 meningitis alone). Coagulase-negative staphylococci were isolated in 36 (40%) SAI and were isolated with another organism in 5 episodes. Risk of SAI or death ≤14 days after surgery was greater after gastrointestinal compared with central nervous system procedures (16% vs 7%, adjusted relative risk [95% CI]: 1.95 [1.15-3.29], P =.01). Death ≤14 days after surgery occurred in 141 of the 1154 infants; 128 deaths occurred after gastrointestinal surgeries. Conclusions: Surgical procedures were associated with bacteremia, fungemia, or meningitis in 7% of infants. The epidemiology of invasive postoperative infections as described in this report may inform the selection of empiric antimicrobial therapy and postoperative preventive care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-65.e6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • infection
  • neonate
  • post-operative
  • premature
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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