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Volume 50, Number 4, August 2017

Bloodstream infections in pediatric patients with acute leukemia: Emphasis on gram-negative bacteria infections

Fu-Chun Kuo, Shih-Min Wang, Ching-Fen Shen, Yun-Ju Ma, Tzong-Shiann Ho, Jiann-Shiuh Chen, Chao-Neng Cheng, Ching-Chuan Liu


Corresponding author:

Ching-Chuan Liu, Corresponding author. Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Number 138, Sheng-Li Road, Tainan 70403, Taiwan. 


Background and purpose: 

Acute leukemia is the most common pediatric hematological malignancy. Bloodstream infections (BSIs) are severe complications in these patients during chemotherapy. This study aims to explore clinical features, laboratory, and microbiological characteristics of BSIs in acute leukemic children. 



Patients aged < 18 years, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia or acute lymphocytic leukemia with BSIs from January 2004 to December 2013 were enrolled. BSIs was defined as positive isolate(s) of blood culture and associated with clinical findings. Clinical presentations, demographic features, and microbiological findings were retrospectively reviewed. 



In total, 126 isolates of 115 episodes of BSIs were identified from 69 patients (acute lymphocytic leukemia 56; acute myeloid leukemia 13). Gram-negative bacteria (GNB), gram-positive cocci, and fungi constituted 56.3%, 42.3%, and 2.4% of the pathogens, respectively. Eighty-three and a half percent of BSIs occurred along with neutropenia, and 73% had severe neutropenia. GNB was the leading pathogen of BSIs. The major GNBs were Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. White blood cell counts, absolute neutrophil counts, and platelet counts were significantly lower in patients of BSIs caused by GNB than gram-positive cocci. Plasma level of C-reactive protein was significant high in patients of GNB BSIs (179.8 mg/L vs. 127.2 mg/L; p = 0.005). Eighty-two percent of patients of E. coli, K. pneumonia, and P. aeruginosa BSIs had sepsis related organ failure or organ dysfunction. P. aeruginosa BSIs had the highest case-mortality (40%). 



Neutropenia was the major risk factor of BSIs in pediatric leukemic patients. BSIs of GNB were associated with severe neutropenia, systemic inflammatory responses, and high mortality. 


Key words:

acute leukemia, bloodstream infection, children, gram-negative bacteria