Urinary tract infections in very low birthweight infants: A two-center analysis of microbiology, imaging and heart rate characteristics

Aviles-Otero, N., Ransom, M., Weitkamp, J., Charlton, J.R., Sullivan, B.A., Kaufman, D.A., Fairchild, K.D.* | JNPM 2021;


BACKGROUND: Increased understanding of characteristics of urinary tract infection (UTI) among very low birthweight infants (VLBW) might lead to improvement in detection and treatment. Continuous monitoring for abnormal heart rate characteristics (HRC) could provide early warning of UTIs. OBJECTIVE:Describe the characteristics of UTI, including HRC, in VLBW infants.

METHODS: We reviewed records of VLBW infants admitted from 2005–2010 at two academic centers participating in a randomized clinical trial of HRC monitoring. Results of all urine cultures, renal ultrasounds (RUS), and voiding cystourethrograms (VCUG) were assessed. Change in the HRC index was analyzed before and after UTI.

RESULTS: Of 823 VLBW infants (27.7±2.9 weeks GA, 53% male), 378 had > / = 1 urine culture obtained. A UTI (≥10,000 CFU and >five days of antibiotics) was diagnosed in 80 infants, (10% prevalence, mean GA 25.8±2.0 weeks, 76% male). Prophylactic antibiotics were administered to 29 (36%) infants after UTI, of whom four (14%) had another UTI. Recurrent UTI also occurred in 7/51 (14%) of infants not on uroprophylaxis after their first UTI. RUS was performed after UTI in 78%, and hydronephrosis and other major anomalies were found in 19%. A VCUG was performed in 48% of infants and 18% demonstrated vesicoureteral reflux (VUR). The mean HRC rose and fell significantly in the two days before and after diagnosis of UTI.

CONCLUSIONS: UTI was diagnosed in 10% of VLBW infants, and the HRC index increased prior to diagnosis, suggesting that continuous HRC monitoring in the NICU might allow earlier diagnosis and treatment of UTI.

*Corresponding Author: 

Karen D. Fairchild, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 22904, USA. Tel.: +1 434 924 5496 E-mail: kdf2n@virginia.edu.