To assess the effect of open radiant heaters on bacterial colonization of neonates, 24 infants were raised under radiant heaters and 34 in standard incubators. Cultures of the nose, groin, and umbilicus were taken daily for the first 3 days of life. For infants raised in incubators, colonization rates with Staph. aureus ranged up to 47%. Among infants raised under radiant heaters (8 of whom had topical antibiotics applied to the umbilicus), only one was colonized with this organism. Even if the 8 treated infants were excluded, the prevalence of Staph. aureus was significantly greater at the umbilicus and groin in infants raised in incubators.
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