Cause of preterm birth and late-onset sepsis in very preterm infants: the EPIPAGE-2 cohort study.


Background: The pathogenesis of late-onset sepsis (LOS) in preterm infants is poorly understood and knowledge about risk factors, especially prenatal risk factors, is limited. This study aimed to assess the association between the cause of preterm birth and LOS in very preterm infants.

Methods: 2052 very preterm singletons from a national population-based cohort study alive at 72 h of life were included. Survival without LOS was compared by cause of preterm birth using survival analysis and Cox regression models.

Results: 437 (20.1%) had at least one episode of LOS. The frequency of LOS varied by cause of preterm birth: 17.1% for infants born after preterm labor, 17.9% after preterm premature rupture of membranes, 20.3% after a placental abruption, 20.3% after isolated hypertensive disorders, 27.5% after hypertensive disorders with fetal growth restriction (FGR), and 29.4% after isolated FGR. In multivariate analysis, when compared to infants born after preterm labor, the risk remained higher for infants born after hypertensive disorders (hazard ratio HR = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.2-2.5), hypertensive disorders with FGR (HR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.9-3.6) and isolated FGR (HR = 2.9, 95% CI = 1.9-4.4).

Conclusion: Very preterm infants born after hypertensive disorders or born after FGR had an increased risk of LOS compared to those born after preterm labor.

Impact: Late-onset sepsis risk differs according to the cause of preterm birth. Compared with those born after preterm labor, infants born very preterm because of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and/or fetal growth restriction display an increased risk for late-onset sepsis. Antenatal factors, in particular the full spectrum of causes leading to preterm birth, should be taken into consideration to better prevent and manage neonatal infectious morbidity and inform the parents.