Incidence, Etiology and Risk Factors Associated with Neonatal Healthcare-Associated Conjunctivitis: A Prospective Study from a Tertiary Care Hospital in India

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Introduction: Healthcare-associated conjunctivitis (HAC) can lead to serious sequelae including blindness. We conducted a one-year prospective study to determine the epidemiology of neonatal HAC at a tertiary-care hospital in India.

Methods: From the neonates fulfilling a set of predefined inclusion criteria, cases of HAC were diagnosed based on CDC guidelines. Conjunctival swabs, obtained from neonates with suggestive clinical signs, were processed using standard protocols. Twenty-eight potential risk factors were analyzed.

Results: We detected 24 cases of HAC among 591 enrolled neonates, with Escherichia coli being the most frequently isolated microorganism. On multivariate analysis, intubation at birth ( p  = 0.046) and orogastric feeding ( p  = 0.029) had a statistically significant association with neonatal HAC. Average hospitalization increased from 9.6 to 20.8 days for neonates diagnosed with HAC.

Conclusion: A standardized case-definition and physician awareness of potential serious sequelae would help improve detection rates and timely institution of therapy. Hand hygiene could help control the menace of neonatal HAC.

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