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Maternal chorioamnionitis and umbilical vein interleukin-6 levels for identifying early neonatal sepsis.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether elevated levels of umbilical vein IL-6 would be a better marker for early neonatal sepsis than the clinical signs of maternal chorioamnionitis.

METHODS: Patients delivering preterm because of spontaneous preterm labor or premature rupture of the membranes were evaluated for clinical signs of chorioamnionitis, which was defined as a temperature of > or =100.4 degrees F along with > or =2 of the following: significant maternal tachycardia (> or = 120 bpm), fetal tachycardia (> or =160 bpm), purulent discharge, uterine tenderness, and leukocytosis (WBC > or =18,000 cells/mm3). Umbilical vein blood was assayed for interleukin-6. An elevated interleukin-6 level was determined to be 25 pg/mL. Infants were evaluated for evidence of early neonatal sepsis. The abilities of clinical chorioamnionitis and interleukin-6 levels > or =25 pg/mL to predict early neonatal sepsis were compared.

RESULTS: There were 28 patients delivering 14 (50%) neonates with evidence for early neonatal sepsis. The incidence of suspected neonatal sepsis in women with and without clinical chorioamnionitis was 6/10 (60%) vs. 8/18 (44.4%), P = 0.43. Using receiver operator characteristic curves, the best cutoff for interleukin-6 was found to be 25 pg/mL. The compared sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of clinical chorioamnionitis vs. interleukin-6 levels > or =25 pg/mL for predicting early neonatal sepsis were 42.9% vs. 92.9%, 71.4% vs. 92.9%, 60% vs. 92.9%, and 55.6% vs. 92.9%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Elevated umbilical vein levels of interleukin-6 predict those preterm infants with early sepsis better than the presence of clinical chorioamnionitis.

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