NeoIPC, a project seeking to reduce the transmission of resistant bacteria in neonatal intensive care units, has just launched.
Nearly 1 in 10 newborns in Europe is admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the first days of life, around 400,000 admissions every year. In low and middle-income countries, the rate of hospital births is increasing, with more critically ill infants being cared for in dedicated care units.
While care in a neonatal unit results in a greater chance of survival in newborns with serious illness, it also increases the risk of exposure to bacteria from the hospital environment. These can cause serious infections in babies, which are commonly resistant to many routinely used antibiotics.
Premature babies are a particularly vulnerable population, because their immune system is immature, and their skin and mucosa are not yet effective barriers against infections. Those who are seriously ill need life-saving devices and prolonged antibiotic treatments. All of these factors increase the risk of being colonized with antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Colonisation with resistant bacteria is a major problem for several reasons: the colonised babies are at higher risk of severe infection, but they are also a source of resistant bacteria being introduced to the hospital environment, which can potentially infect other babies in the unit.
“Hospital-acquired infections, especially when caused by resistant strain of bacteria, are a constant and potentially devastating threat to the health and survival of newborns admitted to neonatal intensive care units, hence there is an urgent need to identify effective and sustainable practices for Infection Prevention and Control in this setting”. Eugenio Baraldi, Director of a level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, University of Padova.
“Currently, the management of bacterial infections in the hospital is fragmented, highly variable, poorly integrated and not supported by high-quality data. NeoIPC brings together experts and sites across Europe in a clinical practice network, that will generate robust scientific evidence to improve management of infections and surveillance of resistant bacteria in neonatal intensive care”. Julia Bielicki, Penta and St George’s, University of London, and the NeoIPC project scientific coordinator.
NeoIPC, a Horizon 2020 funded project, will identify best practices of prevention of infections and surveillance of resistant bacteria in neonatal intensive care units in Europe. By conducting a clinical trial, the project will assess the safety and effectiveness of one or more specific, low-cost and simple interventions to prevent transmissions and infections with hospital bacteria in newborns.
The knowledge generated by the project will be made available for other countries around the globe, including low middle-income countries, thereby benefitting their local population and with the goal of improving outcomes in the most vulnerable newborn population.
The project is led by the University of Padova, Italy. https://www.unipd.it/
Other partners are: Fondazione Penta ONLUS, Italy; St George’s, University of London, United Kingdom; Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands; Universität Zürich, Switzerland; Tartu Ulikool, Estonia; Schweizerisches Tropen und Public Health Institut, Switzerland; Aristotelio Panepistimio Thessalonikis, Greece; Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium; Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany; Servicio Vasco de Salud Osakidetza, Spain; Stellenbosch University, South Africa.