Nine cases of neonatal Haemophilus influenzae septicaemia were recorded in Finland during 1985-9; incidence was 2.8/100,000 live births, and 1.6% of all cases of neonatal septicaemia. The onset of the disease was early in all cases, ranging from 0-6 hours after delivery. Seven of the infants were preterm and three died (overall mortality 33%). H influenzae was isolated from blood in seven of the cases, and in two neonates with clinical signs of septicaemia it was found on several surface sites and the placenta. One of the eight strains of H influenzae was capsular type b and biotype I, the rest being non-typable--a distribution similar to those previously reported. Four of the uncapsulated strains were of biotype III, and three were of biotype II. None of the strains of H influenzae was of biotype IV, which has been reported to be characteristic of neonatal and genital isolates of H influenzae. All nine mothers had some sign of infection at the time of or shortly after delivery. H influenzae was isolated from five mothers: from the blood (n = 1) or from the placenta or cervix (n = 4). The use of intrauterine devices may be a possible risk factor for neonatal H influenzae infections; two of the mothers had such devices in place during their pregnancies.
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