Sepsis is a life-threatening infection of the bloodstream and a major cause of morbidity and mortality in premature newborn infants. Currently, a diagnosis of sepsis is often not suspected until late in the course of the illness, when the infant is already very ill.
J. Randall Moorman and his team have developed a new strategy for early diagnosis based on the finding that signs of illness are preceded by abnormal heart rate characteristics (HRC). By using a validated predictive algorithm for continuous HRC monitoring, the team diagnosed and treated sepsis in infants who never became ill.
The researchers conducted randomized clinical trials to test the hypothesis that HRC monitoring improves the outcomes of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Techniques used involved both clinical neonatology and mathematical biostatistics.