Cutaneous and subcutaneous infections in newborns due to anaerobic bacteria

I. Brook


This review describes the microbiology and management of the major cutaneous and subcutaneous infections in newborns where anaerobic bacteria predominate: omphalitis, necrotizing fasciitis, breast abscess, and scalp infection following intrauterine fetal monitoring. The predominant bacteria known to cause these infections are group B streptococcus, group D enterococcus, group A streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacteriaceae, and anaerobic bacteria. All of these agents can colonize or infect the mother and subsequently colonize or infect the fetus or newborn either intrauterinely or during the passage through the birth canal. Infections due to anaerobes are often polymicrobial, and include also aerobic and facultative bacteria. The anaerobes recovered from these infections are Bacteroided fragilis group, Fusobacterium spp., Peptostreptococcus spp. and Clostridium spp. Early recognition and effective medical and surgical therapy are essential to recovery. Managements of these infections include surgical debridement and drainage when appropriate as well as topical and systemic use of antimicrobial agents effective against both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.

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