Sepsis is a fancy term for infection, though it is a very serious type of infection. The bloodstream is barraged by bacteria, which can cause the body to go into septic shock. Septic shock can cause dangerously low blood pressure, organ failure and death. It can affect people of every age, but it can be particularly difficult to deal with in the newborn. Neonatal sepsis is defined as sepsis occurring within 90 days after birth.
Causes of Neonatal Sepsis
Babies typically develop sepsis because of prolonged rupture of membranes, Group B strep, or meconium aspiration. In these cases, the baby developed the infection from the mother before or during delivery.
Babies can also receive the infection after delivery from extended hospital stays and exposure to bacteria, or through unclean or irregularly changed catheters.
Symptoms of Neonatal Sepsis
Early diagnosis of neonatal sepsis is the most important component of treating it. Doctors, nurses and parents should be on the lookout for:
- Breathing problems
- Changes in bowel movements
- Low blood sugar
- Poor suck reflex
- Abnormal heart rate
Diagnosis is often accomplished by testing the blood, urine, or using a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). Preliminary diagnosis is important—these test results sometimes take time (24 to 72 hours), so a doctor may have to rely on clinical indications. This means that treatment should not always depend on lab results, but may need to be based on the baby’s symptoms.
A baby’s chances of healthy survival are increased by timely treatment. Antibiotics and intravenous fluids will help the baby to fight off the infection. If the baby’s breathing is implicated, a ventilator may be required.
If not treated quickly, the baby may suffer damage to the organs. The brain, liver and kidneys are often affected in cases of neonatal sepsis.
In most cases, doctors should be able to timely identify, diagnose and treat neonatal sepsis. If your baby develops sepsis and has serious medical complications, including cerebral palsy, developmental delays or organ damage, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (855) 712-7818 or online for a free consultation.
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