Invasive Fungal Infections in Newborns and Current Management Strategies

Shilpa Hundalani; Mohan Pammi


Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2013;11(7):709-721. 

In This Article

Combination Therapy

There is a paucity of data in neonates examining combination therapy. In a study by Linder et al., a second antifungal agent (fluconazole) was used in combination with amphotericin B in patients with fungal sepsis if one of the following was present: positive urine culture; development of an abscess and/or 10 days of persistently positive cultures. Patients were treated for 14 days or more after negative culture or until radiographic resolution of abscess, if present.[119] Overall mortality was 15%. Sterilization occurred in 36 patients (67%) with monotherapy and increased to 52 patients (96%) with polytherapy. Amphotericin B with the addition of flucytosine has been used to treat meningitis in infants who can tolerate the oral formulation of flucytosine. However, efficacy of this regimen has not been shown to be superior to that of amphotericin B alone. Flucytosine monotherapy rapidly leads to resistance, so flucytosine cannot be used alone. For meningitis in patients with CNS abscess or persistent CSF cultures, the addition of fluconazole (because of its excellent CSF penetration) is a therapeutic option.

Reduction of horizontal transmission in the NICU by hand washing, glove use and avoidance of artificial fingernails may help reduce transmission of Candida from healthcare workers to neonates. H2-receptor antagonists, proton pump inhibitors, broad-spectrum antibiotics (third-generation cephalosporins and imipenems) and glucocorticoids predispose to invasive Candida infection and should be avoided.[13,53,124] In addition, the use of topical petrolatum is associated with an increase in invasive fungal infection and its use should be avoided.[125] Medical hardware such as central venous catheters predispose neonates to biofilm formation and bloodstream infections. Efforts focussed on collaborative prevention bundles that focus on sterile catheter practices, hub and dressing care, and a dedicated team to place lines have shown to decrease central line-associated bloodstream infections.[126–130] Measures to reduce reliance on catheters such as initiation of early feeding, feeding protocols and promoting breast milk may prevent invasive fungal infections by 16.5%.[62,137]Aspergillus air spores should be prevented by filtration of NICU ventilation systems and containment of dust, especially during hospital renovation and construction. High-efficiency particulate air filters are excellent in clearing almost all of these fungi. NICUs should have continuous surveillance programs for mold, especially in and around windows. There is no evidence that single room isolation or cohorting infants who are colonized or infected with Candida decreases Candida colonization or invasive fungal infection.[131]

The use of probiotics to reduce gastrointestinal Candida colonization has been suggested. In a prospective study of preterm infants, gastrointestinal Candida colonization rates were lower in patients who received either Lactobacillus reuteri or Lactobacillus rhamnosus compared with patients who received no probiotic therapy.[132] In a large multicenter randomized controlled study, the use of bovine lactoferrin (with or without L. rhamnosus) was not associated with a decrease in fungal colonization rate compared with placebo, but the risk of invasive fungal infections was lower in preterm VLBW infants.[133]