Neonatal sepsis is a bacterial infection in the blood. It is found in infants during the first month of life. This may become a serious condition. If you suspect your baby has this condition, contact your doctor right away.
The cause relates to the baby being exposed to bacteria. Early onset sepsis that develops within the first week is from the mother (via the placenta or from passing through the birth canal). Late onset sepsis that develops after one week is from the caregiving environment. Intrapartum antibiotics have been successful in preventing early onset bacterial sepsis.
Some factors related to your pregnancy or health also add to the chance that your baby can get this condition:
The following factors increase your child’s chance of developing neonatal sepsis:
Male babies are at greater risk for neonatal sepsis than female babies.
In most cases, symptoms are present within 24 hours of birth. In almost all cases, they will be present within 48 hours of birth. If your baby has any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to neonatal sepsis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. However, if your baby does have any one of them, see your doctor.
Your doctor will ask about your baby’s symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your baby. Treatment depends on how severe the condition is. Treatment may last 2-21 days. In general, neonates suspected of sepsis are hospitalized for at least two days to wait for culture results.
A well-appearing infant may be monitored without antibiotics. The infant is sent home when cultures are negative. Culture-proven sepsis is treated for 7-21 days, depending on the location of the infection.
Treatment options include:
Antibiotic medication may have to be given intravenously (IV).
The baby may need to receive fluids, glucose, and electrolytes through an IV.
The baby may need to be given oxygen or have help with his ventilation (breathing).
To reduce your baby’s chance of getting neonatal sepsis, your doctor may take the following steps:
Auckland (New Zealand) District Health Board
Minnesota Department of Health
Behrman RE, Kliegman RM, and Jenson HB. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2004.
Herbst A, Källén K. Time between membrane rupture and delivery and septicemia in term neonates. Obstet Gynecol . 2007 Sep;110(3):612-8.
Neonatal sepsis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynaweb.ebscohost.com . Accessed June 8, 2008
Kleigman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 18th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2004.
Neonatal infections. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website.
http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section19/chapter260/260m.jsp . Accessed September 18, 2005.
Neonatal sepsis. Parental Advisory Council: Leadership, Advocacy, and Consultation website. Available at: http://www.paclac.org/Manuals_Guidelines/manuals_guidelines.htm . Accessed September 18, 2005.
Last reviewed November 2008 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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