Signs and symptoms of infection in a neonate are often nonspecific and may be indistinguishable from those associated with other diseases. Therefore, infection should be presumed as a cause of illness in any sick neonate. Broad-spectrum antibiotics should be administered unless the signs and symptoms can be attributed with reasonable certainty to a cause other than infection. Antibiotics should also be administered to premature infants because uterine and placental infection is a common cause of preterm labor.
Antibiotics should be administered as soon as possible because early treatment decreases mortality and morbidity rates. It is preferable to collect a blood culture prior to the initiation of antibiotic therapy, but therapy should not be withheld because of difficulties in collecting a blood culture.
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