Background: Nosocomial infections (NIs) are important causes of morbidity and mortality in pediatric hospitals. Multiple factors contribute towards exposing children to the risk of infection when hospitalized, and some of them differ from those in adults.
Methods: This was a prospective study in a tertiary-level teaching pediatric hospital in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, conducted from January to July, 2003, to describe the epidemiologic characteristics of NIs. Centers for Disease Control’s standard definitions were used and the data recorded included intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors.
Results: We evaluated 808 patients. There were 143 episodes of NI in 124 patients (15.4%). The overall incidence of NI cases was 9.2 per 1,000 patient-days, with higher rates among children aged less than 1 year (P < 0.001) and those with nonsurgical clinical diseases (P < 0.001). Gastrointestinal infections (39.2%) and eye, ear, nose, throat or mouth infections (29.4%) were most common. The factors most closely associated with higher incidence of NI were respiratory disease on admission (incidence density ratio [IDR], 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.83–5.72), another disease associated with admission diagnosis (IDR, 3.5; 95% CI, 2.41–5.02), nonsurgical clinical disease (IDR, 5.9; 95% CI, 3.92–8.85) and pediatric intensive care unit residence (IDR, 3.5; 95% CI, 1.91–6.28). The lengths of hospital stay for patients with and without nosocomial infection were, respectively, 14.1 days (SD, 20.5 days) and 5.1 days (SD, 6.6 days) (t = 121.76; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Nosocomial infections are a frequent complication in pediatrics. They are not necessarily related to invasive procedures but certainly are related to a group of factors that have particular characteristics in the pediatric age group.