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1.  Prolonged Initial Empirical Antibiotic Treatment is Associated with Adverse Outcomes in Premature Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;159(5):720-725.
To investigate the outcomes following prolonged empirical antibiotic administration to premature infants in the first week of life, concluding subsequent late onset sepsis (LOS), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), and death.
Study design
Study infants were ≤32 weeks gestational age and ≤ 1500 grams birth weight who survived free of sepsis and NEC for 7 days. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted to determine independent relationships between prolonged initial empirical antibiotic therapy (≥ 5 days) and study outcomes controlling for birth weight, gestational age, race, prolonged premature rupture of membranes, days on high frequency ventilation in 7 days, and the amount of breast milk received in the first 14 days of life.
Of the 365 premature infants surviving 7 days free of sepsis or NEC, 36% received prolonged initial empirical antibiotics, which was independently associated with subsequent outcomes: LOS (odds ratio [OR] 2.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–4.67) and the combination of LOS, NEC, or death (OR 2.66, 95% CI 1.12–6.3).
Prolonged administration of empirical antibiotics to premature infants with sterile cultures in the first week of life is associated with subsequent severe outcomes. Judicious restriction of antibiotic use should be investigated as a strategy to reduce severe outcomes for premature infants.
PMCID: PMC3193552  PMID: 21784435
prolonged antibiotic treatment; death; human milk; late-onset sepsis; necrotizing enterocolitis; premature infant
2.  Intestinal microbiota of preterm infants differ over time and between hospitals 
Microbiome  2014;2:36.
Intestinal microbiota are implicated in risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and sepsis, major diseases of preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Rates of these diseases vary over time and between NICUs, but time and NICU comparisons of the intestinal microbiota of preterm infants are lacking.
We included 66 singleton infants <29 weeks gestational age with stool samples collected between postnatal days 3 to 21 of life who survived free of NEC and sepsis. Infants were enrolled during 2010 and 2011. Twenty-six infants were enrolled at hospital 1 in Cincinnati, OH, and 40 infants were enrolled at hospital 2 in Birmingham, AL. Samples collected from days 3–9 (“week 1”) and days 10–16 (“week 2”) were compared between years and hospitals. Microbial succession was compared between hospitals in 28 infants with samples from the first 3 weeks of life. DNA extracted from stool was used to sequence the 16S rRNA gene by Illumina MiSeq using universal primers. Resulting operational taxonomic unit tables were analyzed for differences between years and hospitals using linear discriminant analysis effect size algorithm (LEfSe; significance, p < 0.05).
Significant variation was observed in infant microbiota by year and hospital. Among hospital 1 infants, week 1 samples had more phylum Firmicutes (class Bacilli, families Clostridiaceae and Enterococcaceae) in 2010 and more phylum Proteobacteria (family Enterobacteriaceae) in 2011; week 2 samples did not significantly vary over time. However, among hospital 2 infants, the week 1 shift was nearly opposite, with more Proteobacteria (Enterobacteriaceae) in 2010 and more Firmicutes (Bacilli) in 2011; week 2 samples exhibited the same pattern. Regression analysis of clinical covariates found that antibiotic use had an important influence but did not explain these observed shifts in microbiota over time and between hospitals. Microbial succession also differed by hospital, with greater change in microbiota in hospital 1 than hospital 2 infants (p < 0.01, Jaccard distance).
Colonizing microbiota differ over time and between NICUs in ways that could be relevant to disease. Multi-site, longitudinal studies are needed to reliably define the impact of intestinal microbiota on adverse outcomes of preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC4203463  PMID: 25332767
Infants; Premature; Microbiome; Geo-temporal analysis; Microbial succession
3.  A Potential Biomarker for Acute Kidney Injury in Preterm Infants from Metabolic Profiling 
Currently used biomarkers for acute kidney injury (AKI), namely Ngal, SCr, and BUN, are inadequate for timely detection of AKI in preterm infants.
Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy-based metabolic profiling was conducted on urines from 20 preterm infants to determine if novel metabolic biomarkers could be identified for early detection of AKI. Urines were collected from every patient each day for the first 14 days of life. NMR spectra were measured for all urines and metabolic profiling analysis conducted.
One metabolite, carnitine, increased significantly in urines of three extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants starting on day five of life. The three affected infants either received prolonged antibiotic treatment, extended treatment with indomethacin, or both. One ELBW patient who received both treatments and reached the highest urinary carnitine level died on day 10 of life due to localized gut perforation complicated by suspected AKI.
It was concluded that carnitine increased in the three neonates in part due to antibiotic- and/or indomethacin-induced AKI. It is hypothesized that combined antibiotic and indomethacin treatment promoted AKI resulting in reduced proximal renal tubule reabsorption of carnitine and that β-lactam antibiotics blocked renal carnitine uptake by human organic cation transporter, hOCTN2.
PMCID: PMC4096988  PMID: 25035813
Acute kidney injury; Preterm infant; Necrotizing enterocolitis; NMR; Metabonomics; Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (Ngal); Carnitine; Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
4.  Pharmacokinetics of Levetiracetam in Neonates with Seizures 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;159(1):152-154.e3.
The pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were determined prospectively in 18 neonates with seizures. Neonates were found to have lower clearance, higher volume of distribution, and a longer half-life as compared with older children and adults. Mild somnolence was the only adverse effect.
PMCID: PMC3789844  PMID: 21592494
5.  Early microbial and metabolomic signatures predict later onset of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants 
Microbiome  2013;1:13.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating intestinal disease that afflicts 10% of extremely preterm infants. The contribution of early intestinal colonization to NEC onset is not understood, and predictive biomarkers to guide prevention are lacking. We analyzed banked stool and urine samples collected prior to disease onset from infants <29 weeks gestational age, including 11 infants who developed NEC and 21 matched controls who survived free of NEC. Stool bacterial communities were profiled by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Urinary metabolomic profiles were assessed by NMR.
During postnatal days 4 to 9, samples from infants who later developed NEC tended towards lower alpha diversity (Chao1 index, P = 0.086) and lacked Propionibacterium (P = 0.009) compared to controls. Furthermore, NEC was preceded by distinct forms of dysbiosis. During days 4 to 9, samples from four NEC cases were dominated by members of the Firmicutes (median relative abundance >99% versus <17% in the remaining NEC and controls, P < 0.001). During postnatal days 10 to 16, samples from the remaining NEC cases were dominated by Proteobacteria, specifically Enterobacteriaceae (median relative abundance >99% versus 38% in the other NEC cases and 84% in controls, P = 0.01). NEC preceded by Firmicutes dysbiosis occurred earlier (onset, days 7 to 21) than NEC preceded by Proteobacteria dysbiosis (onset, days 19 to 39). All NEC cases lacked Propionibacterium and were preceded by either Firmicutes (≥98% relative abundance, days 4 to 9) or Proteobacteria (≥90% relative abundance, days 10 to 16) dysbiosis, while only 25% of controls had this phenotype (predictive value 88%, P = 0.001). Analysis of days 4 to 9 urine samples found no metabolites associated with all NEC cases, but alanine was positively associated with NEC cases that were preceded by Firmicutes dysbiosis (P < 0.001) and histidine was inversely associated with NEC cases preceded by Proteobacteria dysbiosis (P = 0.013). A high urinary alanine:histidine ratio was associated with microbial characteristics (P < 0.001) and provided good prediction of overall NEC (predictive value 78%, P = 0.007).
Early dysbiosis is strongly involved in the pathobiology of NEC. These striking findings require validation in larger studies but indicate that early microbial and metabolomic signatures may provide highly predictive biomarkers of NEC.
PMCID: PMC3971624  PMID: 24450576
Microbiome; Premature infants; Necrotizing enterocolitis; Dysbiosis
6.  Grade and Laterality of Intraventricular Hemorrhage to Predict 18–22 Month Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
To determine whether extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants with bilateral compared to unilateral intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) have worse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18–22 months.
166 ELBW infants (<1000 g) admitted to a Cincinnati NICU from 1998–2005 with a head ultrasound showing Grade I–IV IVH and neurodevelopmental assessment at 18–22 months corrected age were included. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were developed to determine the impact of laterality and grade of IVH and other clinical variables to predict scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition, Mental Development Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) and the combined outcome of neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI).
Infants with bilateral grade IV IVH had lower adjusted mean Bayley scores compared with infants with unilateral grade IV IVH. For grades I, II, and III IVH, bilaterality of IVH was not associated with lower mean Bayley scores. Infants with grade IV IVH had the highest odds of NDI. The probability of NDI increased with sepsis and postnatal steroid use.
ELBW infants with bilateral compared to those with unilateral grade IV IVH had worse neurodevelopmental outcomes. Infants with grades I–III IVH had similar outcomes whether they had unilateral or bilateral IVH.
PMCID: PMC3475499  PMID: 22220735
premature; sepsis; steroids; Bayley; cognitive; motor
7.  Fucosyltransferase 2 non-secretor and low secretor status predicts severe outcomes in premature infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;158(5):745-751.
To investigate secretor gene fucosyltransferase2 (FUT2) polymorphism and secretor phenotype in relation to outcomes of prematurity.
Study design
Study infants were ≤32 weeks gestational age. Secretor genotype was determined from salivary DNA. Secretor phenotype was measured by H antigen, the carbohydrate produced by secretor gene enzymes, in saliva samples collected on day 9±5. The optimal predictive cut-point in salivary H values was identified by Classification and Regression Tree analysis. Study outcomes were death, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC, Bell’s stage II/III), and confirmed sepsis.
There were 410 study infants, 26 deaths, 30 cases of NEC, and 96 cases of sepsis. Analyzed by genotype, 13% of 95 non-secretors, 5% of 203 heterozygotes, and 2% of 96 infants who were secretor dominant died (p=0.01). Analyzed by phenotype, 15% of 135 infants with low secretor phenotype died, compared with 2% of 248 infants with high secretor phenotype (predictive value=76%, p<0.001). Low secretor phenotype was associated (P<.05) with NEC, and non-secretor genotype was associated (P=.05) with gram negative sepsis. Secretor status remained significant after controlling for multiple clinical factors.
Secretor genotype and phenotype may provide strong predictive biomarkers of adverse outcomes in premature infants.
PMCID: PMC3412418  PMID: 21256510
8.  Prediction of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia by Postnatal Age in Extremely Premature Infants 
Rationale: Benefits of identifying risk factors for bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants include providing prognostic information, identifying infants likely to benefit from preventive strategies, and stratifying infants for clinical trial enrollment.
Objectives: To identify risk factors for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and the competing outcome of death, by postnatal day; to identify which risk factors improve prediction; and to develop a Web-based estimator using readily available clinical information to predict risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death.
Methods: We assessed infants of 23–30 weeks' gestation born in 17 centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network and enrolled in the Neonatal Research Network Benchmarking Trial from 2000–2004.
Measurements and Main Results: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia was defined as a categorical variable (none, mild, moderate, or severe). We developed and validated models for bronchopulmonary dysplasia risk at six postnatal ages using gestational age, birth weight, race and ethnicity, sex, respiratory support, and FiO2, and examined the models using a C statistic (area under the curve). A total of 3,636 infants were eligible for this study. Prediction improved with advancing postnatal age, increasing from a C statistic of 0.793 on Day 1 to a maximum of 0.854 on Day 28. On Postnatal Days 1 and 3, gestational age best improved outcome prediction; on Postnatal Days 7, 14, 21, and 28, type of respiratory support did so. A Web-based model providing predicted estimates for bronchopulmonary dysplasia by postnatal day is available at
Conclusions: The probability of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants can be determined accurately using a limited amount of readily available clinical information.
PMCID: PMC3136997  PMID: 21471086
bronchopulmonary dysplasia; prematurity; low-birth-weight infant
9.  Use of a body proportionality index for growth assessment of preterm infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2008;154(4):486-491.
We evaluated the utility of weight-for-length (defined as gm/cm3, “ponderal index”) as a complementary measure of growth in infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
Study design
Secondary analysis of infants (n=1214) 26-29 weeks at birth, included in a registry database (1991-2003), who had growth data at birth and discharge. Weight-for-age and weight-for-length were categorized as small (<10th percentile), appropriate or large (>90th percentile).
Statistical agreement between the weight-for-age and weight-for-length measures was poor (kappa=0.02 at birth, 0.10 at discharge, Bowker test for symmetry p<0.0001). From birth to discharge, the percent of small-for-age infants increased from 12% to 21%, and the percent of small-for-length infants decreased from 10% to 4%; the percent of large-for-age infants remained similar (<1%), and the percent of large-for-length infants increased from 5% to 17%. At discharge, 92% of small-for-age infants were appropriate or large-for-length, and 19% of appropriate-for-age infants were large-for-length.
Weight-for-age and weight-for-length are complementary measures. Weight-for-length or other measure of body proportionality should be considered for inclusion in routine growth monitoring of infants in the NICU.
PMCID: PMC2745983  PMID: 19041096
Growth status; growth; weight-for-age; weight/length3; ponderal index; weight/length ratio; obesity; overweight; underweight; small-for-gestational age; nutrition

Results 1-9 (9)