Neonatal infections are infections of the neonate (newborn) acquired during prenatal development or within the first four weeks of life (neonatal period). Neonatal infections could also be contracted by mother to child transmission, in the birth canal during childbirth, or contracted after birth. Some neonatal infections are apparent soon after delivery, while others may develop in the postnatal period. Some neonatal infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, and malaria do not become apparent until much later.
There is a higher risk of infection for preterm or low birth weight neonates. Infant respiratory distress syndrome is usually a condition of preterm neonates which will have long-term negative consequences, it also can arise following an infection. In some instances, neonatal respiratory tract diseases may increase the susceptibility to future respiratory infections and inflammatory responses related to lung disease.
Antibiotics can be effective for neonatal infections, especially when the pathogen is quickly identified. Instead of relying solely on culturing techniques, pathogen identification has improved substantially with advancing technology; however, neonate mortality reduction has not kept pace and remains 20% to 50%. While preterm neonates are at a very high risk, all neonates can develop infection. Neonatal infection can also be related to premature rupture of membranes (breakage of the amniotic sac) which substantially increases the danger of neonatal sepsis by allowing passage for bacteria to enter the womb before the birth of the infant. Neonatal infection are often distressing to the family and it initiates concentrated effort to treat it by clinicians. Research to enhance treatment of infections and prophylactic treatment of the mother to avoid infections of the infant is ongoing.
In industrialized countries, treatment for neonatal infections takes place in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The causes and reasons for neonatal infection are many. The origin of infectious bacteria and some other pathogens is often the maternal gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract. Many of the maternal infections with these organisms are asymptomatic in the mother. Other maternal infections that may be transmitted to the infant in utero or during birth are bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections The infant's ability to resist infection is limited by its immature immune system. The causative agents of neonatal infection are bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In addition, the system of the neonate may respond in ways in which can create problems that complicate treatment, like the discharge of inflammatory chemicals. Congenital defects of the system also affect the infants ability to repel the infection.
Signs to Look for
Many infections cause similar symptoms. Call your child's doctor or seek emergency medical aid if your new baby shows any of those possible signs of infection:
Ø poor feeding
Ø breathing difficulty
Ø decreased or elevated temperature
Ø unusual skin rash or change in skin color
Ø persistent crying
Ø unusual irritability
A marked change during a baby's behavior, like suddenly sleeping all the time or not sleeping much in the least , also can be a sign that something isn't right.
These signs are of even greater concern if the baby is a smaller amount than 2 months old. To make ensure good health, have your baby checked by a doctor right away if you suspect a problem.
Can Neonatal Infections Be Prevented?
If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with one of these infections, or if she is considered at risk of infection, preventive measures can lower the probability that she will pass it to her baby. Because many infections are often treated with medicine given to the mother while she's pregnant, maternal testing is extremely useful.
In many cases, a fast blood or fluid test can determine if a pregnant woman should receive treatment. For a lady with listeriosis, a course of antibiotics usually prevents transmission of the bacterium to the fetus. Women who are HIV positive are advised to require antiretroviral medication during pregnancy to lower the danger that their babies will contract HIV infection.
Other neonatal infections are best prevented through steps that keep expectant mothers from developing the infection within the first place.
Women can help protect themselves and their unborn babies by:
Ø making sure they've been immunized against rubella and chickenpox infection before trying to become pregnant
Ø thoroughly washing and cooking food, regularly washing hands (particularly before and after preparing food, after using the toilet, and after coming into contact with bodily fluids and waste), and avoiding all contact with cat and other animal feces to lower the danger of contracting bacteria and parasites that cause infections like listeriosis and toxoplasmosis
Ø practicing safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can lead to congenital infections
Some preventive measures are routine parts of pregnancy and delivery. Many doctors recommend that an expectant mother have a simple swab test late in pregnancy to check whether she's carrying GBS. If she is, she will receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics during delivery to lower the risk of transmitting the bacteria to her baby. Doctors also routinely put antibiotic drops or ointment in newborns' eyes to stop conjunctivitis caused by gonorrhea bacteria.
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