Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
They are one of the cleanest environments in a hospital, but neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) still contain microbes, according to a study published in the open access journal Microbiome. The authors of this pilot study speculate that these non-pathogenic microbes then go on to populate the guts of premature babies, who do not have gut microflora due to antibiotic treatment.
When babies are delivered, their guts are normally populated with non-pathogenic microbes through the delivery process. Premature babies are administered broad spectrum antibiotics in the first week after birth to prevent infections, which removes many of these microbes. NICUs are therefore kept extremely clean to protect the premature babies, who often have weakened immune systems, from infection by pathogenic microbes.
To investigate microbes present in a NICU, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Pittsburgh swabbed the most touched surfaces of the unit as well as collecting fecal samples from two premature babies in a small pilot study. The surfaces swabbed included the sink, feeding and breathing tubes, hands of healthcare staff and parents, access knobs on the incubator and electronic devices at the nurses' station, such as keyboard, mouse and cell phone.
The researchers then carried out a genetic analysis to identify any microbes and their abundance. They identified microbes living in the NICU with most microbes on electronic devices and sinks, and less on hands and tubes. When looking at the two infants fecal samples, to identify microbes living in their guts, they found that there was similarity with microbes identified from the NICU surfaces, with the most abundant similar to that those found on tubes.
Lead author of the study, Brandon Brooks, University of California, Berkeley, says: "The most common species found in our study (Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, and Bacteroides fragilis) all have been associated with disease in preterm infants, but can also be commonly isolated from healthy infants and adults. The strains found here are largely opportunistic, lacking many of the really nasty genes found in 'outbreak' versions of their respective strains, and would need to be further tested to fully understand their pathogenicity in vivo. Ultimately, both infants were discharged with a healthy status."
Some of the bacteria contained resistance genes, known as efflux pumps, for pumping out the disinfectant used to clean the unit, which gives clues as to why they are present in the NICU despite being subject to regular cleaning and sterilization. The microbes in the guts of premature babies also had these resistance genes.
Brandon Brooks also said: "Hospital acquired infections are an obvious concern, and have been well studied, but the acquisition of non-pathogenic microbes from hospitals is less understood. We hypothesized that infants housed in the NICU over the first month of life are likely to acquire microbes from their immediate surroundings, however, this would need to confirmed by a larger cohort study."
Microbes in the neonatal intensive care unit resemble those found in the gut of premature infants, Authors: Brandon Brooks, Brian A Firek, Christopher S Miller, Itai Sharon, Brian C Thomas, Robyn Baker, Michael J Morowitz and Jillian F Banfield, Microbiome (2014)
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our Pregnancy / Obstetrics category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Central, BioMed. "Researchers analyse microbes found in neonatal intensive care unit." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 28 Jan. 2014. Web.
23 Apr. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/271551>
Central, B. (2014, January 28). "Researchers analyse microbes found in neonatal intensive care unit." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/271551.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2014 All rights reserved. MNT is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.