Gut Bacteria Linked to Late-Onset Sepsis in Neonates

Researchers have identified three bacteria present in the gut of neonates that may be linked to late-onset sepsis in premature babies, according to a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Of 217 premature infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit of Saint Louis Children's Hospital, 11 developed sepsis. Researchers found group B Streptococcus, Serratia marcescens, or Escherichia coli in stool samples of seven of those patients before the onset of their infection. The bacteria identified in their stool samples matched the bacteria identified in their blood samples taken after the onset of infection, suggesting the bacteria in the gut were sepsis-causing pathogens.

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Researchers also analyzed stool samples from non-septic NICU patients to see whether the pathogens were transmitted between patients. Of 175 randomly selected patients without sepsis, one had a group B Streptococcus specimen. Researchers suggested that while inter-patient transmission occurs, it does not always lead to an infection.

Researchers stated increased surveillance microbiology, decolonization and heightened hygiene may help reduce the transmission of pathogens between and within premature infants.

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