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Neonatal Units

Infection prevention is essential on Neonatal Units. When caring for sick and premature babies, the risk of infection can be very high and the newborns have yet to build any significant defensive strategies. Although relatively uncommon, infection control issues can result in neonatal unit closures.

All Neonatal Unit have a team of specialist nurses who are experienced in caring for babies who need Intensive Care, High Dependency Care and Special Care.  They are supported by medical teams who consist of paediatric consultants, specialist registrars and junior doctors. In addition to some very specialist care, they also provide on-going care for babies who need help with feeding, temperature control and treatment for infections.

Babies who are very small are usually nursed in incubators rather than cots, to keep them warm. sometimes these incubators can be used to provide short term ventilation, non-invasive ventilation and oxygen therapy.Some incubators have open tops, whilst others have holes in the side for mothers and healthcare workers to be able to reach through and treat/comfort the child. Despite strong hand hygiene practices commonly being employed, there can sometimes be a build up of unwanted pathogens - like Serratia marcescens, Acinetobacter baumanii and Enterobacter - in the environment, or pathogens can be accidentally brought into the unit. In the worst case, these infections can lead to very sick babies and even death.

Serratia marcescens bacteria commonly exists in the gastrointestinal tract of children but it is also found outside the body within the general environment. And Acinetobacter baumanii and Enterobacter are two other commonly found bacteria. They often cause opportunistic infections in immunocompromised hosts and in those who are on mechanical ventilation (like newborns).The urinary and respiratory tracts are the most common sites of infection. Acinetobacter baumanii, due to its ability to survive on artificial surfaces and resist desiccation/drying, can remain active and possibly infect new patients for some time.

But it is not just bacteria that can cause concern. Some research studies have shown that neonates who tested positive for viruses had longer durations of stay, increased risk of developing infections, spent more days on respiratory support and had an increased probability of getting discharged on home oxygen.

Bioquell can help in a range of ways, including decontamination of the environment and specific help to decontaminate incubators either in situ on the ward or in specialised 'deep-clean' enclosures based on a variation of our Bioquell Pod.

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Find out more about some of the common pathogens in Neonatal Units