Sepsis is a blood infection in newborn babies

Discover all the details about Sepsis

Sepsis is a blood infection in newborn babies that is usually spread at the time of delivery. Discover all the details of this disease.

Content Summary

  • What is?
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Prevention
  • When to go to the Pediatrician

What is?

Neonatal sepsis is infection of the blood that occurs in a baby less than 90 days old. Early sepsis is the one that appears in the first week of life, and late sepsis, the one that occurs between the first week and three months.


It is caused by bacteria: streptococcus, listeria, E. coli . In early-onset sepsis, the risk factors are the following:

  • Mother colonized in pregnancy by group B streptococcus
  • Part premature
  • Infection of the placenta and amniotic fluid during pregnancy ( chorioamnionitis )
  • Bursting of the pouch for more than 24 hours before delivery

In late-onset sepsis the risk factors are:

  • Having an IV for a long time (in babies admitted to the NICU)
  • Being hospitalized for a long period of time


The main symptoms are poor general condition , refusal to feed and poor temperature regulation (fever or hypothermia). They may also appear: hypoglycemia, vomiting and diarrhea, apnea, jaundice, slow pulse and seizures.

The impact is global. The drop in blood pressure causes shock . This is the beginning of damage to the different organs of the body: kidneys, liver, lungs and central nervous system. Usually confusion or delirium and hyperventilation can be the first signs of sepsis.


blood test and a culture of the same must be carried out to observe signs of infection and the growth of the bacteria that causes the infection in order to combat it adequately. Cerebrospinal fluid, urine, and respiratory secretions are also analyzed .


If sepsis is suspected, the child should be admitted to an intensive care unit ( ICU ) and “broad-spectrum” intravenous antibiotic therapy, ie, capable of destroying a wide range of bacteria, should be started without delay. When the germ that has produced the sepsis is analyzed, the most precise treatment is given.

If the child is very ill, he may need help breathing , oxygen, IV fluids, and medicines that increase blood pressure. The mortality rate can be up to 60% in immunosuppressed children.


A vaginal and rectal culture should be performed on all pregnant women during the last weeks of pregnancy to detect the presence of group B streptococcus . If the mother is positive, intravenous antibiotic treatment should be given to the mother during delivery to prevent the newborn from becoming infected as she passes through the birth canal. If the mother’s “water breaks” more than 24 hours before the baby’s birth, antibiotics should also be given.

When to go to the Pediatrician

Any baby under three months with a bad appearance, fever and refusal to feed should go to the pediatric emergency room to rule out sepsis.

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