BEGINNING in 1948, infants admitted to the premature nursery of the Infants' Hospital (Children's Medical Center) were routinely given penicillin and either sulfadiazine or streptomycin in relatively large doses for the first 5 to 10 days following admission. The effect upon mortality appears to have been favorable.1 During the same period, similar antibiotics and chemotherapeutic agents have been prescribed for certain infants admitted to the premature nursery of the Boston Lying-in Hospital in whom early rupture of membranes, suspected or actual infection in the mother, or abnormal pulmonary ventilation suggested actual or potential infection in the infant. The present study was undertaken to determine the effect of this regimen upon the aerobic flora of the nasopharnynx in the premature infants cared for in these two nurseries.
Cultures from the nose and throat are frequently sterile during the first 24 hours after birth.* Torrey and Reese3 pointed out that