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Multi-drug resistant gram negative bacilli causing early neonatal sepsis in India
  1. Rajlakshmi Viswanathan1,
  2. Arun Kumarendu Singh1,
  3. Sulagna Basu2,
  4. Suparna Chatterjee3,
  5. Syamal Sardar1,
  6. David Isaacs4
  1. 1Department of Neonatology, IPGMER, Kolkata, India
  2. 2Department of Bacteriology, National Institute of Cholera & Enteric Diseases, Kolkata, India
  3. 3Department of Pharamacology, IPGMER, Kolkata, India
  4. 4Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Rajlakshmi Viswanathan, IPGMER, Neonatology, 244, AJC Bose Road, Kolkata 700020, West Bengal, India; docrumic{at}


Objective To study the organisms causing early and late onset neonatal sepsis, with special reference to multi-drug resistant gram negative bacilli, at two neonatal units (one urban, one rural) in India.

Methods Prospective surveillance study.

Results There were 159 episodes of sepsis (81 urban and 77 rural) affecting 158 babies. Gram negative bacilli caused 117 infections (68%) and predominated at both centres in both early and late sepsis. Klebsiella pneumoniae was the commonest organism, causing 61 infections (38.3%). In early sepsis (0–2 days), non-fermenting gram negative bacilli caused 42.1% of infections at the urban centre; there were no cases of early Group B Streptococcus sepsis. Late onset sepsis was mainly caused by gram negative bacilli at both centres. Multi-drug resistance of over 80% of early-onset gram negative organisms to ampicillin, third generation cephalosporins and gentamicin indicates that these multi-resistant organisms are almost certainly circulating widely in the community. The overall mortality from early sepsis was 27.3% (9 of 33) and from late sepsis was 26.2% (33 of 126). Gram negative bacilli caused all deaths from early sepsis and 87.5% of deaths from late sepsis.

Conclusion This study shows that multi-drug resistant gram negative bacilli are a major cause of early and late neonatal sepsis in India and are almost certainly widespread in the community.

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  • Funding Partly supported by a grant from the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India under WOS [B] Scheme.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children Ethics Committe.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.