'Antimicrobial drug resistance causing death of newborns’, says new study

CHENNAI: Antimicrobial drug resistance is increasingly causing more deaths of newborn children, particularly in developing countries like India, according to various studies. In order to gather insights into the problem, researchers from the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) in Puducherry has joined a global observational study on neonatal sepsis in hospitals and neonatal units.

A study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), titled ‘Neonatal Sepsis: High Antibiotic Resistance of the Bacterial Pathogens in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of a Tertiary Care Hospital’ concluded, “There is an increasing trend of antibiotic resistance to the commonly used and available drugs. Continuous surveillance for antibiotic susceptibility should be done to look for resistance pattern.”

Sepsis is a condition where infectious microbe entering the body seeps into the blood stream posing a high risk of mortality. Particularly, if children are not diagnosed for infection early, neonatal sepsis is most likely to cause death. While there are no large-scale data available in India, ‘Tackling antimicrobial resistance in neonatal sepsis’- a study by the Lancet suggests that globally, infections cause nearly a quarter of all neonatal deaths, with neonatal sepsis accounting for 15 per cent of these deaths.

“The point of this study is to collect data from a hospital like ours with high footfall and find out which microbes are resistant to which drugs and compare the trend globally,” said Dr B Adhisivam from JIPMER, who leads the two-year study.

In order to gather more data and insights into the problem, researchers from India and 10 countries have joined hands to conduct the observational study. The countries include Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Greece, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Uganda. In India, the study will also be conducted at Lady Harding Medical College, New Delhi and KEM Hospital, Mumbai.

“The result of this study will help doctors across these countries come up an antibiotic regime to be given to children in case of an infection,” said Adhisivam.

Drug resistance is a problem particularly among children as their immune systems are weak and symptoms of sepsis do not show up until it’s too late. Therefore doctors, particularly in developing countries where neonatal infections are higher, tend to give early treatment of antibiotics at the sign of an infection.

Speaking to a news agency, Dr Manica Balasagaram, Director, GARDP, said development of new drugs was not the only solution they were looking for.

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