UMEM Educational Pearls

It is an often asked question: should I consider the corrected or the chronologic age when determining the need for fever evaluation in a pediatric patient? The 2021 AAP guidelines for the well appearing febrile neonate are widely accepted and apply to neonates under 60 days. These highly practical guidelines are, unfortunately, not applicable to pre-term neonates. The question often becomes what age to use for a pre-term neonate- the age they actually are, or the age they would be if they had completed a full term gestation. 

Hadhud et al attempted to clarify the age utilized in a retrospective review. This looked at febrile 448 pre-term neonates evaluated for fevers. It found that those patients with both a corrected and chronologic age over 3 months had a 2.6% rate of serious bacterial infections or SBI (UTI, bacteremia or meningitis), those with a corrected age under 3 months but a chronologic age over 3 months had a 16.7% rate of SBIs, and those with both a corrected and chronologic age of under 3 months had a 33.3% rate of SBI. 

Overall, these rates of infection are higher than the typically reported in febrile neonates, supporting that pre-term neonates have a much higher risk of infections overall. Ultimately, pre-term neonates should be carefully assessed and a more thorough evaluation is typically warranted in this patient population even if they have reached the generally accepted 60 day marker by chronologic age- use the corrected age.


Hadhud M, Gross I, Hurvitz N, Ohana Sarna Cahan L, Ergaz Z, Weiser G, Ofek Shlomai N, Eventov Friedman S, Hashavya S. Serious Bacterial Infections in Preterm Infants: Should Their Age Be "Corrected"? J Clin Med. 2023 May 1;12(9):3242. doi: 10.3390/jcm12093242. PMID: 37176683; PMCID: PMC10178985.