External validation of an invasive bacterial infection score for young febrile infants

Stacy J. Tsai, Sriram Ramgopal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: The Aronson rule is a point-based clinical decision rule for the identification of febrile infants #60 days of age at low risk of invasive bacterial infection (IBI) in the emergency department. This rule uses variables of temperature, age, urinalysis, and absolute neutrophil count. We sought to externally validate this decision rule. METHODS: We conducted a secondary analysis of a multicenter prospective cohort of febrile infants #60 days old presenting to the emergency department between December 2008 and May 2013. Infants were excluded if they had clinical sepsis or chronic conditions or were missing any laboratory components of the Aronson score. Our outcome was IBI (bacteremia and/or bacterial meningitis). We assessed the accuracy of the Aronson rule by reporting metrics of diagnostic accuracy with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) at different point thresholds. RESULTS: Of 4130 included patients (780,21 days of age; 2362 boys), 87 (2.1%) had an IBI, including 65 with isolated bacteremia and 22 with meningitis. Using an Aronson cutoff score of 2 resulted in a sensitivity of 93.1% (95% CI 85.6%–97.4%), specificity of 26.6% (95% CI 25.3%–28.0%), and negative predictive value of 99.4% (95% CI 98.8%–99.8%). Six patients with IBI (3 with bacterial meningitis) were misclassified as low risk when using a threshold of 2. CONCLUSIONS: The Aronson rule demonstrates metrics of diagnostic accuracy that are comparable to the derivation study. Our findings suggest that the rule may be generalizable for the risk stratification of well-appearing febrile infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalHospital Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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