Neonates with abdominal wall defects are at an increased infection risk because of the defect itself and prolonged neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stays. Antibiotic prophylaxis until closure of the defect is common. However, infection risk and antibiotic use have not been well quantified in these infants.
A retrospective cohort study of infants with abdominal wall defects (gastroschisis and omphalocele) admitted to a single-center NICU from 2007 to 2018. Demographic and clinical information, including microbiologic studies, antibiotic dosing and surgical care, were collected. Antibiotic use was quantified using days of therapy (DOT) per 1000 patient-days. Sepsis was defined as culture of a pathogen from a normally sterile site.
Seventy-four infants were included; 64 (86%) with gastroschisis and 10 (14%) with omphalocele. Median day of closure was 8 days [interquartile range (IQR) 6–10, range 0–31]. All infants received ≥1 course of antibiotics; median antibiotic DOT/infant was 24.5 (IQR 18–36) for an average of 416.5 DOT per 1000 patient-days. Most antibiotic use was preclosure prophylaxis (44%) and treatment of small intestinal bowel overgrowth (24%). Suspected and proven infection accounted for 26% of all antibiotic use. Skin and soft tissue infection (13/74, 18%) and late-onset sepsis (11/74, 15%) were the most common infections; 2 infants had sepsis while on antibiotic prophylaxis. All infants survived to discharge.
Most antibiotic use among infants with abdominal wall defects was prophylactic. Infection on prophylaxis was rare, but 35% of infants had infection after prophylaxis. Improved stewardship strategies are needed for these high-risk infants.