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A news piece from HealthDay on WebMD has brought to light a possible new risk to newborns. An Australian study suggests that the clothing of parents and visitors may spread dangerous respiratory infections to infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The study was presented at the International Conference on Emerging and Infectious Diseases, in Atlanta. They took swabs from the clothing of caregivers and visitors in the NICU at Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, and found that four percent of people tested had detectable respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The article also mentions that “The investigators also found RSV on 9 percent of high-touch areas in the NICU, including nurses’ computers, chairs next to infants’ beds and bed rails. As for the implications, study author Nusrat Homaira was quoted as saying “There
is a need for further research to evaluate how long the virus remains infectious on personal clothing, which will have policy implications in terms of need for use of separate gowns by the visitors while they are in the NICU,”
This may mean a change in policies regarding parents and caretakers clothing in NICU’s around the world very soon.
Studies presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.