PAINE #PANCE Pearl – Pediatrics


A 3-week old baby girl is sent to your emergency department after being seen by their pediatrician for irritability, poor feeding, and a seizure just prior to arrival at the pediatrician’s office. Vital signs are BP-103/73, HR-137, RR-25, O2-100% on room air, and Temp-39.2oC (102.5oF). Physical examination reveals a lethargic infant with decreased motor tone and a full, bulging frontal fontanelle. What is the most important diagnostic study to obtain and what is the empiric treatment of choice while awaiting results?


  1. A full or bulging fontenelle is suggestive of meningeal edema and swelling are concerning for meningitis. Couple this with the lethargy and poor motor tone and this infant bought herself a lumbar puncture.
  2. Now….because of her age (<30 days old), you have to cover for a specific set of pathogens due to a developing immune system. Classically, neonatal sepsis bugs include group B streptococcus (GBS), Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes. Empiric antibiotic coverage (until gram stain results) is:
    1. Ampicilin (GBS)
    2. Gentamycin (gram negative coverage)
    3. Cefotaxime (wider gram negative coverage)
2004 – IDSA Guidelines

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