Healthcare-associated infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in pediatric patients in the United States and throughout the world. Overall rates of infection range widely depending on the pediatric population, with the highest rates being in patients in neonatal intensive care units, followed by those in pediatric intensive care units, immunocompromised patients, and those undergoing surgical procedures. Risk factors for healthcare-associated infection include intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The major intrinsic factors are age, birth weight, underlying diseases, and immune status. The major extrinsic factors are presence of invasive devices and procedures. The major risk factors for healthcare-associated infection caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are either the transmission of pathogens from person to person (directly or indirectly, usually via the hands of healthcare workers) or the emergence of resistance after exposure to antimicrobials. Preventing healthcare-associated infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens requires a comprehensive approach that includes: 1) preventing infections through the use of vaccines and prophylaxis; 2) minimizing the use of invasive devices; 3) understanding and fully implementing (and complying with) current guideline recommendations for the prevention of infections; and 4) using antimicrobials judiciously. Implementing such a comprehensive program will reduce healthcare-associated infections, reduce the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, improve patient outcomes, and reduce health care costs.
Semin Pediatr Infect Dis 2004 Jan;15(1):30-40