Imad R. Makhoul, MD, DSc, Polo Sujov, MD, Leon Ardekian, DDS, Imad Kassis, MD, Tatiana Smolkin, MD, Imad Abu-Elnaa'j, DMD, Ada Tamir, DSc and Dov Laufer, DMD
Background: Factors influencing the oral flora of premature infants have not been adequately investigated.
Objective: To investigate the effects of gestational age and of anti-bacterial therapy on the oral flora of premature infants.
Methods: Oral cultures were obtained at age 1 day and age 10 days from 65 premature infants, divided into three groups: a) 24 neonates of 30-34 weeks gestation who did not receive ABT, b) 23 neonates of 30-34 weeks gestation who received ABT, and c) 18 neonates < 30 weeks gestation who received ABT.
Results: Oral bacterial colonization increased from day 1 to day 10 of life. In 24-34 week neonates, gestational age did not affect early bacteremia or oral colonization at birth. Neither gestational age nor ABT affected late bacteremia or oral colonization at day 10. In 30-34 week neonates with ABT, the oral flora consisted mainly of non-Escherichia coli gram-negative bacteria, whereas those who did not receive ABT grew mainly alpha-hemolytic streptococci, Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli in neonates < 30 weeks who received ABT the oral flora were mainly coagulase-negative staphylococci. Oral colonization with anearobes was zero and colonization with fungi was minimal.
Conclusions: Acquistion of oral bacteria rose from day 1 to day 10 of life, regardless of gestational life or ABT. On day 10 of life, the spectrum of oral bacterial flora changed following ABT and consisted mainly of coagulase-negative Staphylococcus and non E. coli garm-negative bacteria. Oral colonization showed few fungi but no anaerobes. These microbiologic observations merit attention when empirical anti-microbial therapy is considered in premature infants suspected or having late-onset sepsis.