There were also no significant differences in Gram-positive urinary tract infections, Gram-negative blood stream or urinary tract infections, coagulase-negative staphylococcus blood stream infection, antibiotic treatment, length of hospital stay, or death.

The results of this trial suggest that some late-onset infections in extremely low birth weight and very preterm neonates may be prevented by using nonsterile gloves in addition to hand hygiene when contacting the patient, bed, or catheter.

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Although no significant difference was observed in the rate of overall late-onset infections between groups, the rate of late-onset infections was lower than expected, resulting in the trial being underpowered to detect differences between groups for this outcome.

Nonsterile glove use was optional for parents, and extending glove use to include parent contact may further decrease the rate of infection. Hand hygiene compliance was also lower than expected, however, and increasing compliance may affect the rate of infection in all preterm neonates.

Alan Ehrlich, MD, is a deputy editor for DynaMed, in Ipswich, Mass., and assistant clinical professor in Family Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

DynaMed is a database that provides evidence-based information on more than 3,000 clinical topics and is updated daily through systematic surveillance covering more than 500 journals.