Nearly 150 babies and children last year suffered potentially fatal blood infections after contracting the MRSA superbug in NHS hospitals, Government research reveals.
The figure is double that of previous estimates, raising concerns that MRSA is tightening its grip on the very young and that poor hospital hygiene is allowing the superbug to spread.
Children with MRSA in their blood require emergency hospital treatment to prevent blood poisoning and toxic shock, which can quickly lead to organ failure and death. Premature babies receiving intravenous treatment are at particular risk because MRSA is able to enter their bloodstream through the tiny open wound required to administer drugs or fluids.
Preliminary results from the Health Protection Agency study, which will be unveiled at the organisation's annual conference tomorrow, show that more than three-quarters of the 147 youngsters affected since the research began last year were less than a year old. Of those, four out of 10 were under the age of one month.
Dr Alan Johnson, a researcher and microbiologist, said: "We have provisionally seen 147 cases of MRSA bacteraemia in children reported to us. This is very much an interim picture because we are still getting questionnaires from paediatricians."
He suggested that enhanced surveillance explained much of the rise, but said that the study had been extended for another year.
However, Dr Mark Enright, reader in microbiology at Imperial College London, said: "If you are getting nearly 150 bloodstream infections in children, that is an awful lot and it means things are getting out of control."
He added that, because bloodstream infections usually account for about 20 per cent of all MRSA cases, it was possible that as many as 750 children each year are contracting the superbug.
Source: The Telegraph
Comment: My Friends son Daniel died at 3 months old from MRSA, he was a twin and a premature baby. He was and is greatly loved and sadly missed. R.I.P Daniel. His twin sister is now a very healthy 7 year old. They were born at 20 weeks weighting a pound each.