Is 15 days an appropriate cut-off age for considering serious bacterial infection in the management of febrile infants?

Silvia Garcia, Santiago Mintegi, Borja Gomez, Jorge Barron, Mari Pinedo, Nerea Barcena, Elena Martinez, Javier Benito
Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2012, 31 (5): 455-8

INTRODUCTION: Febrile infants <3 months of age have a greater risk for serious bacterial infection (SBI). The risk is inversely correlated with age. Most protocols recommend admitting to hospital all febrile infants <28 days of age. However, as the prevalence of SBI is not homogenous in this age group, some authors have considered decreasing this cut-off age, allowing ambulatory management of selected patients meeting low-risk criteria.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether 15 days is a suitable cut-off age for different approaches to the management of infants with fever.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Cross-sectional descriptive study of infants <3 months of age with fever without a source seen between September 1, 2003 and August 30, 2010 in the pediatric emergency department of a tertiary teaching hospital. All infants <3 months of age with fever without a source (≤ 38 °C) were included. The following data were collected: age, sex, temperature, diagnosis, management in pediatric emergency department, and outcome.

RESULTS: Data were collected for 1575 infants; of whom, 311 (19.7%, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 17.7-21.7) were found to have an SBI. The rate of SBI in the patients who were 15 to 21 days of age was 33.3% (95% CI: 23.7%-42.9%), similar to that among infants who were 7 to 14 days of age (31.9%, 95% CI: 21.1%-42.7%) and higher than among those older than 21 days of age (18.3%, 95% CI: 16.3-20.3%).

CONCLUSIONS: Febrile infants 15 to 21 days of age had a rate of SBI similar to younger infants and higher than older age infants. It is not appropriate to establish the approach to management of infants with fever based on a cut-off age of 2 weeks.

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