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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 9-13
Original Article

Neonatal Rectal Colonization with Malassezia furfur

Gil J Gross, Noni E MacDonald, and Andrew MR Mackenzie

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Received 13 August 1990; Accepted 16 November 1990

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Malassezia furfur and Candida albicans are fungal pathogens which have been recognized with increasing frequency as agents of mortality and serious morbidity in neonatal intensive care unit patients. A longitudinal study of oral, rectal and umbilical colonization by these organisms of newborns admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit within 24 h of birth was undertaken. Of 71 infants followed for a minimum of 10 days, 24 were colonized with M furfur and 12 with C albicans during the first 10 days of life. The lower gastrointestinal tract was found to be the most common colonization site for both organisms. Statistically significant (P<0.05) inverse associations were demonstrated between gestational age and risk of colonization with either organism at any site, and between birthweight or gestational age and risk of rectal colonization with either organism. Antibiotics were associated with a relative risk colonization of 4.06 (P=0.06) with either organism at any site. It is concluded that M furfur and C albicans are common colonizing organisms in a neonatal intensive care unit setting and are most frequently harboured in the lower gastrointestinal tract. M furfur, recently implicated as a systemic pathogen in this population, has not been previously recognized as a gastrointestinal commensal organism. The relationship between colonization and invasive fungal disease, and potential roles for preventive strategies, remain to be elucidated.