Around 20 per cent of infant or child deaths across Maharashtra occur due to hospital or household cross infections, underlined State Malnutrition Eradication Task Force Chairman Dr Deepak Sawant. In the recent spate of deaths reported from civic and government-run hospitals in Nanded, Kalwa and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, cross infection could be one of the reasons behind the fatalities of 15 infants, said experts.
Several factors like baby's contact with the elderly, who already have diseases, or smoke resulting from wood burning contribute to cross infections. “We have been taking measures to curb infant and child mortality rates across Maharashtra. In most cases, an infant or a child gets transferred from private hospitals to government ones when they are in critical condition. At that time, it becomes difficult for doctors to save them,” Dr Sawant pointed out. Addressing the problem in rural areas is more difficult owing to less awareness, he added.
Pneumonia and bacteremia infections
An expert explained, “The most common hospital-acquired infections are pneumonia (lung infection) and bacteremia (blood infection) resulting from a catheter that has been inserted into a vein to give the newborn fluids or medications.” In very-low-birth-weight infants, the majority of hospital-acquired infections also are caused by staphylococci. The lower the birth weight, the higher the risk of infection, particularly in newborns who need to be on a ventilator or need intravenous therapy for a long time.
SL Raheja Hospital Consultant Dr Asmita Mahajan said that cross infections are very common in children, especially under the age of five years, because of low immunity. A few simple prevention tips include not admitting kids to schools till two years of age, giving them a protein-rich diet and all vaccines, and teaching them hygienic practices.