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ObjectiveInvasive bacterial infections account for an estimated 15% of infant deaths worldwide. We aimed to estimate the incidence and trends in invasive bacterial infections in infants caused by Gram-negative pathogens in England during 2011-2019.MethodsLaboratory-confirmed invasive bacterial infections in infants (<1 year old) were identified in the UK Health Security Agency national laboratory surveillance data from April 2011 to March 2019. Polymicrobial infections were defined as two or more bacterial species from the same normally sterile sample site. Early-onset infections were defined as <7 days from birth and late-onset as ≥7 days (neonates 7-28 days; infants ≥29 days). Trend analyses were carried out using Poisson (for episodes/incidence) and beta (for proportions) regression.ResultsThe annual incidence of invasive bacterial infections increased by 35.9%, from 189.8 to 258.0 cases per 100 000 live births (p<0.001). Late-onset infections in both neonates and infants increased substantially over the study period (p<0.001), whereas early-onset infections increased slightly (p=0.002). Escherichia coli was the most common Gram-negative pathogen isolated and accounted for 27.2% of the overall rise in Gram-negative infant disease incidence. Polymicrobial infections almost doubled, increasing from 29.2 to 57.7 per 100 000 live births (p<0.001), and mostly involved two species (81.3%, 1604/1974 episodes).ConclusionsThe incidence of Gram-negative invasive bacterial infections in infants increased between 2011/2012 and 2018/2019 in England, driven mainly by an increase in late-onset infections. Further work is required to elucidate the risk factors and drivers of this increased incidence so that opportunities for prevention can be identified.

Original publication




Journal article


Archives of disease in childhood

Publication Date



Healthcare-Associated Infection, Fungal, Antimicrobial Resistance, Antimicrobial Usage & Sepsis Division, UK Health Security Agency, London, UK.