Objectives: To determine the site and bacterial epidemiology of nosocomial infections (NIs) in children.
Design: 6-month prospective study with periodic chart review during hospitalization using a uniform prospective questionnaire in each unit, analyzed at a coordinating center.
Setting: 20 units in eight European countries: 5 pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), 7 neonatal units, 2 hematology-oncology units, 8 general pediatric units.
Participants: All children hospitalized during the study period with an NI according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria.
Results: The overall incidence of NI was 2.5%, ranging from 1% in general pediatric units to 23.6% in PICUs. Bacteria were responsible for 68% (gram-negative bacilli, 37%; gram-positive cocci, 31%), Candida for 9%, and viruses for 22% of cases. The proportion of lower respiratory tract infections was 13% in general pediatric units and 53% in PICUs. Bloodstream infections were most frequent in neonatal units (71% of NIs) and were associated with a central venous catheter in 66% of cases. Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CNS) was the main pathogen. Eleven percent of NI were urinary tract infections. Gastrointestinal infections were most commonly viral and accounted for 76% of NIs in general pediatric units. The prevalence of antimicrobial resistance depended on the type of unit. The highest rates were observed in PICUs: 26.3% of Staphylococcus aureus and 89% of CNS were methicillin-resistant, and 37.5% of Klebsiella pneumoniae had an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase. Mortality due to NI was 10% in PICUs and 17% in neonatal units.
Conclusions: We found large differences in NI frequency and microbial epidemiology in this European study. Viruses were the main pathogens in general pediatrics units. Catheter-related sepsis and CNS were frequent in newborns. A high frequency of multiresistant bacteria was observed in some units. Clinical monitoring of NIs and bacterial resistance profiles are required in all pediatric units.