Treating asymptomatic parents for staph could lower transmission risk to newborns, study shows

Treating parents who have Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in their system, but are not sickened from it yet, could be an effective strategy for reducing risk of newborns in the intensive care unit contracting the same strain of staph, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Staph is a common cause of healthcare-associated infections in the neonatal intensive care unit, and parents who are colonized with staph may expose newborns to the bacteria. Researchers examined whether treating parents with intranasal mupirocin and topical chlorhexidine could help reduce the risk of staph transmission.

Researchers conducted the study at two NICUs in Baltimore, where they enrolled 236 newborns with staph–colonized parents from Nov. 7, 2014, through Dec. 13, 2018. Of the 236 newborns, only 190 were included in the analysis. Parents of the newborns were divided into two groups — 89 received intranasal mupirocin and cloths soaked in 2 percent chlorhexidine, and 101 received a placebo treatment for five days.

About 31 percent of newborns whose parents received treatment for staph later acquired staph themselves, compared to 45.5 percent of newborns whose parents received the placebo treatment.

Among the newborns whose parents received staph treatment, 14 percent acquired a staph strain similar to the strain their parents had, versus 28 percent of newborns whose parents were in the placebo treatment group.

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