Meningitis is a dangerous infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is caused by listeria and E. Coli, but it is most commonly caused by Group B Strep. Pregnant women should be tested for Group B Strep and prescribed antibiotics to prevent them from passing it on to the child. If a newborn has meningitis, it is formally diagnosed using a spinal tap and treated in the NICU. Typically, newborns with signs and symptoms of infection are treated prophylactically with antibiotics before the diagnosis is made.
Infections in newborns can be serious. Babies born with infections may become very sick and may require significant time in the hospital for recovery. Most babies recover without significant long-term damage when the appropriate diagnosis and treatment is timely. A delay or misdiagnosis can mean serious and permanent mental and physical damage to the child and can even be fatal.
Some infections are contracted soon after birth when a newborn’s immune system is still immature and unable to fight infection. Many other infections are transmitted to the baby through the mother and the delivery process. Therefore, it is critical for maternal infection to be identified and promptly treated in order to protect the unborn child.
The types of infections vary. Babies can get viral infections such as herpes simplex virus, chickenpox (varicella virus), Rubella virus, or the hepatitis virus. They can also contract bacterial infections like Group B Streptococcus, Listeria, E. coli, or syphyalis. Or they can get a parasitic infection like Toxoplasmosis.