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Our Global Voices Posts

Protecting newborns from infection in healthcare settings

Posted on by Rachel Smith, Medical Epidemiologist
Rachel Smith, Medical Epidemiologist
Rachel Smith, Medical Epidemiologist
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion’s International Infection Control Program

Each year, a staggering 3.6 million babies globally will die within the first four weeks of life.

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As a mother, the safety of my baby is of utmost importance to me. Yet each year, a staggering 3.6 million babies globally will die within the first four weeks of life. Tragically, many of these deaths are preventable. Almost all occur in low and middle income countries, and infection is one of the three major causes. We understand how to prevent some infections that can lead to death in these babies, but we have much to learn, especially about how newborns get an infection while in a healthcare setting.

Many low and middle income countries do not have a way to collect or track data on how many newborn patients have infection. Infrastructure barriers and limited resources, such as patient crowding or a lack of running water, require innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce infections and save lives. Preventing infections through even basic practices, such as handwashing and cleaning the patient care area, can be difficult to implement. Furthermore, cost and staffing can limit the type and number of interventions implemented to prevent an infection.
CDC recently funded Johns Hopkins University Center for Global Health to investigate these infections, determine ways to prevent them, and identify strategies to improve survival of newborns in intensive care units.
The CDC and Johns Hopkins teams will study infections occurring in neonatal intensive care units in India by developing and evaluating innovative strategies that balance cost, feasibility, and acceptability to find the most effective methods to prevent infections in newborns and saves lives. This work will improve practices in similar settings across the world. It’s our hope that because of this work mothers like me around the world won’t lose their babies to preventable infections.

The project is one of seven projects recently awarded funding through the Safety and Healthcare Epidemiology Prevention Research Development (SHEPheRD) Program, managed by CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. This unique program promotes close collaboration among partners and experts across the field to find innovative approaches to preventing healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistant infections in the U.S. and abroad.

As of October 2016, CDC has awarded 35 organizations the opportunity to develop and conduct research for innovative prevention projects focused on safe healthcare through the SHEPheRD Program. CDC will continue to work with partners to bring increased attention and support to safe healthcare, antibiotic resistance, and the prevention of infections. To learn more about SHEPheRD, visit CDC’s HAI research website.


Posted on by Rachel Smith, Medical EpidemiologistLeave a comment

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