February 1964

Vernix Caseosa and Bacteria

Author Affiliations

Katherine Sprunt, MD, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032.; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Dr. Sprunt); Senior Bacteriologist (Winifred Redman).; The Babies Hospital (Presbyterian Hospital) and The Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Am J Dis Child. 1964;107(2):125-130. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1964.02080060127003

In spite of the current research emphasis on various factors considered to contribute to bacterial contamination of the newborn, there is still argument (almost entirely verbal) about the influence of vernix caseosa on bacterial colonization of the skin. Some insist that vernix possesses antibacterial action and so recommend that it be rubbed into or at least left on the skin. Others think that vernix favors the growth of bacteria, that dried vernix disperses organisms in the nursery, and that, therefore, all infants should be carefully washed to remove it. This paper presents the results of experiments designed to determine the action of vernix on bacteria in vitro and on the skin of newborns.

Materials and Methods  In Vitro Method of Testing Vernix for Bacteriostatic or Bactericidal Activity.—Test Organisms: Populations derived from a single colony of Staphylococcus aureus, mannitol and coagulase positive, of α-hemolytic streptococci, and of Escherichia coli were

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