Safely Reduce Newborn Antibiotic Exposure With the Early-onset Sepsis Calculator


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Newborns are at risk for early-onset sepsis (EOS), which occurs within 72 hours after birth. The incidence of proven EOS is 0.5-2.0 per 1000 live births. The annual birth rate in the Netherlands is around 170.000, consequently the number of EOS cases varies between 85 to 340. However, about 5%, thus 8500, of late preterm and term newborns receive empiric antibiotic therapy in compliance with the current Dutch guideline. An alternative is the CE certified EOS calculator application, which calculates an individual EOS risk with treatment advice. In this prospective cluster-randomized multicenter trial the current Dutch guideline will be compared with the EOS calculator in newborns at risk for EOS.

The primary objectives of this study are:

To investigate whether the use of the EOS calculator reduces antibiotic exposure in newborns with suspected EOS in the first 24 hours after birth.
To investigate the presence of one or more of the following four predefined safety criteria, namely 1) the need for any respiratory support, and/or 2) the need for an intravascular fluid bolus for hemodynamic instability due to sepsis, and/or 3) referral to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for sepsis treatment, and/or 4) proven EOS.

Secondary objectives of the study are:

To investigate if the use of the EOS calculator decreases the total duration of antibiotic therapy in newborns with suspected EOS.
To investigate if the use of the EOS calculator decreases the percentage of antibiotic therapy started for suspected and, or proven EOS if symptoms started between 24-72 hours after birth.
To study the impact of (suspected) EOS on parents/guardians.

Study Overview

Start Date
April 12, 2022
Completion Date
October 1, 2024
Date Posted
March 10, 2022
Accepts Healthy Volunteers?


Full Address
Northwest Clinics
Alkmaar, Netherlands

Almere, Netherlands

Amstelland Hospital
Amstelveen, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Martini Hospital
Groningen, Netherlands

Spaarne Hospital
Haarlem, Netherlands

Dijklander Hospital
Hoorn, Netherlands

Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital
Nijmegen, Netherlands

Máxima Medical Center
Veldhoven, Netherlands

Zaans Medical Centre
Zaandam, Netherlands


Eligibility Criteria
Inclusion Criteria:

postmenstrual age of 34 weeks or more;
age between 0-24 hours;
at least one EOS risk factor or clinical sign of infection (suspected of EOS) present within the first 24 hours of life;
parental/guardian consent.

Exclusion Criteria:

major congenital anomalies;
language barrier (lack of effective communication or whenever it hinders understanding).

Study Contact Info

Study Contact Name
Prof. Frans B. Plötz, MD, PhD; Bo M. van der Weijden, MD
Study Contact Phone

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Detailed Description
Suspicion of EOS is often based on risk factors and nonspecific clinical symptoms, such as maternal fever during labor or rapid breathing in the newborn. The combination of the difficulty to recognize EOS in time and the risk of serious consequences of EOS not treated timely has resulted in a low threshold for the start of empirical antibiotic therapy. This has led to significant overtreatment.

The current standard of care in the Netherlands is the Dutch Society of the Nederlands (NVK) guideline "Prevention and treatment of early-onset neonatal infections", which is an adaptation of the 2012 version of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline "Antibiotics for early-onset neonatal infection: antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of early-onset neonatal infection". The NVK guideline uses risk factors and symptoms to categorically indicate which newborns need antibiotic therapy. Evaluating its use in 9 Dutch hospitals, limited adherence was found, especially when antibiotics were recommended by the guideline but withheld by the clinicians. This limited adherence indicates that it is desirable to amend the current guideline or to investigate the use of an alternative method.

A new method for determining which newborns need antibiotic therapy is the "EOS calculator". Developed in the United States, this method uses a combination of detailed information about 5 maternal risk factors and the presence of clinical neonatal symptoms to calculate an individual EOS risk and treatment advice.

For the Dutch situation, equipoise between the current NVK guideline and the EOS calculator can be established given balance of risk for both over- and undertreatment of EOS for both strategies. A large body of evidence now supports the safety of the EOS calculator approach, but validation outside of the North-American setting is limited, especially for safety outcomes.

A prospective cluster-randomized Dutch validation study of the EOS calculator is needed before implementation because of the following reasons:

Multicenter validation of actual EOS calculator use has not been performed in the Netherlands.
To date, no randomized prospective study of EOS calculator use with safety as an outcome measure has been performed. Specifically, there are no studies that take into account the potential effects of a treatment delay due to EOS calculator use. This especially holds true for cases that are clinically suspect for EOS, but not culture-confirmed.
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