(HealthDay News) – Only about 1% of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants develop methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, and the morbidity and mortality are similar to that seen in infants with methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) infections.

Andi L. Shane, MD, MPH, from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on morbidity and mortality for 8,444 VLBW infants (birth weight, 401–1,500g), of whom 316 (3.7%) had S. aureus bacteremia and/or meningitis.

The researchers found that 88 of the 316 cases (28%) were MRSA and 228 cases (72%) were MSSA, with no overlap. The two groups were similar in terms of morbidities such as the need for mechanical ventilation, diagnosis of respiratory distress syndrome, and necrotizing enterocolitis. Nearly all (99%) of MRSA infections occurred >72 hours after birth. Mortality was high but similar in the resistant and susceptible groups (26 vs 24%).

“Few VLBW infants had S. aureus bacteremia and/or meningitis. The 1% with MRSA had morbidity and mortality rates similar to infants with MSSA,” Shane and colleagues conclude. “Practices should provide equal focus on prevention and management of both MRSA and MSSA infections among VLBW infants.”

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