Infections in the newborn period must be assumed to be preventable. Prevention implies active measures carried out by the nursery staff. To be efficient these active measures must be directed toward keeping pathogenic agents out of the nursery or at least at low density there, toward eliminating reservoirs of these agents in the nursery when they occur, toward breaking the chain of transmission of these agents, and in some emergency situations even toward altering the state of susceptibility of the baby population.
It is interesting to reflect that historically the great interest in environmental sanitation and aseptic technique in the nursery developed during the rise of lying-in hospitalization during the 1930's. The great problem in infection then was epidemic diarrhea of the newborn, and emphasis was placed on attention to sterile formulas, sterile linen and diapers, and other items directed at the then-unknown agent producing diarrheal disease. It is also