Microbial profile and characterization of blue bulb manual suction devices used to promote airway clearance in newborns in intrapartum and postpartum units

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Newborns are suctioned with a blue bulb manual suction device to remove naso-oropharyngeal secretions and promote airway clearance. This study identifies and discusses the microbial profile and characterization of the bulb used in newborns on intrapartum and postpartum units.


This was a descriptive study with convenience sampling of a total of 50 bulbs used in cesarean births, vaginal births, and on the postpartum unit. The bulbs were tested for microbial growth, and the percentages of contaminated bulbs were calculated. The χ2 test was used to compare the proportion of bulbs with microbial growth by route of birth among bulbs sampled from the intrapartum unit.


Microbial profile and characterization identified a total of 57 different gram-positive cocci and rods and gram-negative rods. Among 50 bulbs cultured, bacterial growth was present in 42% of the bulbs, and Escherichia coli was identified in 55% of the gram-negative rod isolates. The χ2 test comparing vaginal and cesarean bulbs showed a statistically significant difference in the percentages of contaminated bulbs for any growth (P = .023) and for any Staphylococcus spp (P = .050).


New empirical evidence confirms the bulb is a potential bacterial reservoir and poses a potential health risk for nosocomial infections for newborns. Further studies are needed to identify bacterial transmission, newborn outcomes, bactericidal bulb cleaning methods, and quality and safe suction practices.

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