Newborn sepsis is a severe infection in an infant less than 28 days old. The infection is in your baby’s blood, but it may affect any body system or the whole body.
Newborn sepsis is most often caused by bacteria, but other germs can also cause it. A fetus may become infected before birth if your amniotic fluid is infected. During delivery, the newborn may be exposed to an infection in the birth canal. Once born, a baby may be exposed to infections in the hospital.
The following are things that make it more likely that your newborn will have sepsis:
Sepsis in newborns can be hard to identify. Symptoms depend on what’s causing the infection. They also depend on how severe the infection is and where it is. The newborn may have:
Sepsis in the newborn can be hard to diagnose. The signs of sepsis are similar to many other health conditions. Your baby may need tests. These may include:
Treatment will depend on your baby’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to stop sepsis. If your baby’s healthcare provider suspects sepsis, your baby will get antibiotics right away, even before test results are available. Once the provider has the test results, he or she may change the treatment.
A newborn with sepsis may be very ill. He or she will need to stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). In the NICU your baby will be watched very closely. In addition to the antibiotics, he or she will get other medicines, oxygen, nutrition, and help with breathing, if needed.
Sepsis is life-threatening for newborns. It can affect any body system. It often affects more than one system at the same time.
Although newborn sepsis can’t be completely prevented, you can lower the risk. Regular prenatal care can detect and treat many problems that put a newborn at risk for sepsis.
Hospitals and other facilities have practices in place to prevent the spread of infection. These include:
Call your baby’s healthcare provider right away if your newborn has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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