The findings from a preliminary randomized clinical trial published yesterday in JAMA suggest that treating parents who are colonized with Staphylococcus aureus could be a strategy to reduce the risk of transmitting the bacteria to newborns in intensive care units.

The results of the trial—which found that decolonizing S aureus–colonized parents reduced the risk of neonates acquiring S aureus strains that were the same as those found in their parents—are significant, because S aureus is a leading cause of healthcare-associated infections in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), with potentially devastating consequences. Many infection prevention strategies in NICUs focus on reducing the risk of neonates acquiring the bacteria from healthcare workers or the hospital environment.

But the authors of the study say the findings indicate that parents are a major reservoir for the pathogen, and that decolonizing S aureus–colonized parents may reduce this reservoir and the risk of infection.

Novel intervention shows promise

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