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Progressive changes in clinical practice have improved the survival of even the most vulnerable neonates, such as those born preterm or with a very low birth weight (VLBW). Frequent contacts with healthcare workers, invasive procedures, early exposure to large scale antibiotics and immature immune systems, however, can cause additional, healthcare related, nosocomial infections.
It is estimated that 2.5% of all bloodstream infections occurring in VLBW infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have a fungal aetiology.1 Candida species (mainly Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis) are the third most commonly isolated pathogens in the nursery, acquired vertically from the mother or horizontally from the NICU environment, with an estimated incidence of 1.6%–9% in VLBW and 10%–16% in extremely low birthweight (ELBW) infants.2 Candida colonisation is a primary risk factor for the development of invasive candidiasis, estimated to be three times more common in infants born <26 weeks of gestation or with a <750 g birth weight than in infants with 750–1000 g birth weights.3
Antifungal prophylaxis has been proposed to reduce mortality in this vulnerable population, and fluconazole is emerging as the drug of choice because of its ability to treat more than 90% of Candida species isolates, its high oral bioavailability, and its established safety and tolerability profiles. Fluconazole is currently approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration for use in adults for the treatment of vaginal candidiasis, oropharyngeal and oesophageal candidiasis, and cryptococcal meningitis. Additionally, it is approved by the EMA for the treatment, …