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J Perinatol. 2010 Feb;30(2):135-9. doi: 10.1038/jp.2009.119. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

The epidemiology of methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a neonatal intensive care unit, 2000-2007.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.



To assess the epidemiology of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).


A retrospective chart review was conducted from 2000-2007; demographic and clinical characteristics of infected infants and crude mortality were assessed.


During the study period, there were 123 infections caused by MSSA and 49 infections caused by MRSA. Although the types of infections caused by MSSA and MRSA were similar, infants with MRSA infections were younger at clinical presentation than infants with MSSA infections (P=0.03). The overall rate of S. aureus infections was approximately 15-30 per 1000 patient-admissions. The rate of bacteremia and skin and soft tissue infections remained stable over time. Among extremely low birth weight infants (birth weight <1000 g), 4.8 and 1.8% developed an infection caused by MSSA or MRSA, respectively. Infections occurred in a bimodal distribution of birth weight; 53% of infections occurred in extremely low birth weight infants and 27% occurred among term infants birth weight >or=2500 g, many of whom underwent surgical procedures.


MSSA and MRSA remain significant pathogens in the NICU, particularly for extremely premature infants and term infants undergoing surgery. Further work should investigate infection control strategies that effectively target the highest risk groups and determine if vertical transmission of MRSA is responsible for the younger age at presentation of infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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