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Validation of c-reactive protein in the early diagnosis of neonatal sepsis in a tertiary care hospital in Kenya

R Kumar
R Musoke
WM Macharia
G Revathi


Objective: To evaluate utility of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the early diagnosis of neonatal sepsis in a tertiary care Newborn Unit in Kenya.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Newborn Unit, Kenyatta National Hospital.
Subjects: All neonates admitted to Newborn Unit, Kenyatta National Hospital during the study period with suspected sepsis based on specified clinical criteria.
Results: Of the 310 infants, there were 83 episodes of proven sepsis and 94 episodes of probable sepsis. Using the standard CRP cut-off value of 5 mg/dl, a sensitivity of 95.2% in proven sepsis and 98.9% for probable septic episodes were noted. In proven sepsis, a specificity of 85.3%, positive predictive value of 80.6%, and a negative predictive value of 96.5% were noted. In probable sepsis, a specificity of 83.3%, positive predictive value of 80.9% and a negative predictive value of 99.1% were noted. The overall accuracy in proven sepsis was 96.5%, and in probable sepsis was noted to be 99.1%. Sub-analysis showed a lower positive predictive value (61.5%) for early onset sepsis compared to 93% for late onset sepsis. Repeat CRP tests were done in 33 babies. Twenty two of the
29 with proven/probable infection had a ten-fold increase in CRP levels, but levels were noted to be low or reducing in seven (24.1%) babies showing signs of improvement clinically. Using a receiver operator characteristic curve, the optimal cut-off point for CRP was found to be 5 mg/dl.
Conclusions: Serum CRP is an accurate indicator of neonatal sepsis, with high sensitivity, specificity and predictive values, at the standard cut-off of 5. CRP is a better screening test for late-onset than early-onset neonatal sepsis. The standard recommended CRP cut -off point of 5 is appropriate for local use.
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eISSN: 0012-835X