What to know about neonatal infections: Causes and Treatments
Neonatal infections are infections of the newborn during the neonatal period or the first four weeks after birth. Neonatal infections can be contracted by transplacental transfer into the uterus, into the birth canal during delivery (perinatal), or by other ways after birth.
Some neonatal infections are apparent soon after delivery, while others may develop after delivery during the first week or month. Some infections acquired in the neonatal period only become evident much later, such as HIV, hepatitis B and malaria
- Agents responsible for neonatal infection are bacteria, viruses and fungi. In addition, the immune system of the newborn can respond in ways that create problems that complicate treatment, such as the release of inflammatory chemicals.
- Congenital abnormalities of the immune system also affect infants’ ability to fight infection.
- Causes and reasons for neonatal infection are numerous. The origin of infectious bacteria and other pathogens is often the gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary mother.
- Many maternal infections with these organisms are asymptomatic in the mother. Other maternal infections that can be transmitted to the infant in the womb or during birth are sexually transmitted infections, bacterial and viral infections.
- Infant’s ability to resist infection is complicated because of his immature immune system.
- Infants born with malaria can be infected with a variety of species; Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium falciparum.
- Women living in areas where malaria is widespread and frequent are repeatedly exposed to malaria.
- In response to maternal infection, mothers develop antimalarial antibodies. It is likely that the antibodies present in the mother provide protection for the baby. A bacterial infection can develop with malaria.
2) How is neonatal infection diagnosed
- The diagnosis of infection is based on the recovery of the pathogen or pathogens from typically sterile sites in the mother or baby.
- Unfortunately, half of pregnant women are asymptomatic for gonorrhea infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
- Samples are obtained from urine, blood or cerebrospinal fluid. The diagnosis of the infection can also be helped by the use of more specific tests. This may include determining the total number of white blood cells, cytokine levels, and other blood tests and signs.
3) Is there Treatment?
- Treatment for a neonatal infection is usually started before the diagnosis of the cause is confirmed. It can be treated with antibiotics.
- Maternal treatment with antibiotics is mainly used to protect against group B streptococcus.
- Women with a history of HSV can be treated with antiviral drugs to prevent symptomatic lesions. Feces of viruses could infect the infant at birth.