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Topical antibiotic decolonizes S. aureus in NICU infants



Application of the topical antibiotic mupirocin to multiple body sites was reported to be safe and efficacious in eradicating Staphylococcus aureus (SA) colonization on infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), according to researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Mother and son in the neonatal intensive care unit Perboge/Thinkstock

Karen L. Kotloff, MD, and her colleagues conducted a phase 2 multicenter, open-label, randomized trial to assess the safety and efficacy of intranasal plus topical mupirocin in eradicating SA colonization in critically ill infants between April 2014 and May 2016.

“Staph aureus is a leading cause of sepsis in young children admitted to the NICU. Sepsis, which is systemic infection, can be fatal in infants. Thus, preventing these infections is very important in managing risk for babies in the NICU who are fragile and struggling with multiple medical problems,” said Dr. Kotloff in a university interview.

The researchers examined infants in the NICU at eight study centers who were less than 24 months old who underwent serial screening for nasal SA. Infants colonized with SA and were randomly assigned to receive 5 days of mupirocin versus no mupirocin to the intranasal, periumbilical, and perianal areas. Treatment effects were assessed on day 8 (primary decolonization) and day 22 (persistent decolonization) for all three body areas (Pediatrics. 2019 Jan 1. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-1565).

Primary decolonization occurred in 62/66 (93.9%) of treated infants and 3/64 (4.7%) of the control infants (P less than .001). Persistent decolonization was seen in 21/46 (45.7%) of treated infants compared with 1/48 (2.1%) of the controls (P less than .001).

“This multicenter trial supervised by Dr. Kotloff provides strong support for a safe strategy to minimize Staphylococcus aureus infections in some of the most at-risk patients in any hospital, premature babies,” E. Albert Reece, MD, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a university press release commenting on the study.

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