Current predictors of early onset sepsis are imperfect. Neutropenia in umbilical cord blood has shown some potential but its predicting value is hampered by the lack of reference values based on a large cohort of healthy newborns. The objective of this study was to establish cord blood neutrophil reference values for term and near term newborns.

We retrospectively studied all newborns ≥34 weeks of gestation born between July 2009 and March 2014 at our institution. Neutrophils are routinely measured by flow cytometry on all cord blood samples. We excluded twin pregnancies and newborn with congenital neutropenia, congenital infection, aneuploidy and early-onset sepsis.

8,591 newborns were included in the study. Cord blood neutrophil counts increased steadily with gestational age. The median neutrophil count at 34 weeks of gestation was 3.1×109/L whereas it was 7.9×109/L at 40 weeks of gestation. An elective caesarian was associated with a lower...

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