Neonatal Sepsis

(Sepsis, Neonatal)

Definition

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 infant has this condition, contact your doctor right away.
Spread of Infection
infant sepsis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Early-onset sepsis develops in the first 2-3 days after birth. Late-onset sepsis develops within 3-7 days after birth.

Causes

Neonatal sepsis is caused by bacteria. The infant may come in contact with bacteria during pregnancy, birth, or from the environment after birth.Early-onset sepsis is caused by an infection from the mother. It may pass to the infant from the placenta or birth canal during birth. Antibiotics may be given to high risk mothers during labor. This may prevent early-onset bacterial sepsis in some infants.Late-onset sepsis is caused by bacteria from the healthcare environment.

Risk Factors

Infant boys have a higher risk for neonatal sepsis. Other factors that may increase your infant’s chance of neonatal sepsis include:
  • Premature birth—more than 3 weeks before due date
  • Early labor—more than 3 weeks before your due date
  • Fetal distress before birth
  • Infant has a very low birth weight
  • Fetus has a bowel movement before birth and fetal stool is in the uterus
  • Amniotic fluid surrounding the infant has a bad smell or the infant has a bad smell right after being born
Pregnancy conditions or mother's health issues that increase your infant's chance of neonatal sepsis include:
  • Labor complications resulting in traumatic or premature delivery
  • Water that broke more than 18 hours before giving birth
  • Fever or other infections during labor
  • Need for a catheter for a long time while you are pregnant
  • Presence of group B streptococcal bacteria in vaginal or rectal areas
  • Many courses of prenatal steroids
  • Prolonged internal monitoring during labor and delivery

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