Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

A newborn child brings happiness and joy in the family. After nine long months, having a little one in your arms is the greatest gift that a mother can have. However, if your newborn gets sick then it becomes a great cause for worry for everyone.

Top 5 Newborn Diseases

Top 5 Newborn Diseases

Here are some diseases that every parent should be made aware of regarding any illness a newborn might have:

  1. Group B Streptococcal Diseases in Newborn

    The first one is Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS) the name of the disease derived from Streptococcus a common bacterium. This bacterium causes various infectious diseases in newborns such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. Pregnant women bear these bacteria in their rectum or vagina which acts as a source to get transferred to the newborn if the mother is not treated well with antibiotics. 

    Some of the symptoms of Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS) infected babies are: 

    1. Problems related to breathing or feeding, high temperature, lethargy and weird behaviour in the child. 
    2. Difficulty breathing.
    3. Bluish color to the skin.

    When your baby is affected with group B strep infection in the first seven days of life it is known as an early onset infection. The second cause of suspicion is that newborns who catch this infection after delivery are born breathing in fluid of group B strep during labor. When the newborn catches group B infection between 7 days and 2 months after birth then it is defined as late-onset infection.

    Doctors are not very sure about the reason how a newborn gets infected. Mothers probably transfer group B strep to their babies via close physical contact. Doctors conduct blood tests and use urine culture, blood culture and at times cerebrospinal fluid to detect the bacteria. Newborn babies who have GBS infections are served with antibiotics and with caution, care and monitoring in the hospital.

    Prevention Strategies For Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS) Infections In Newborn

    The major ways to prevent the early onset of Group B strep disease are:

    • Pregnant women must be tested for group B strep bacteria during the last phase of her pregnancy tenure. The ideal time is between 35 and 37 weeks.
    • Antibiotics must be given to women who are tested positive with Group B bacteria to prevent transferring of Group B bacteria to their newborns.
    • There has been no proper process as mentioned above to stop the late-onset Group B strep disease. There has been no decline in the late-onset Group B strep disease since 1900. No proper strategies have been discovered that might prevent the late-onset group B strep disease in newborns.

    Treatment For Group B Strep Diseases In Newborns

    • Group B strep diseases in newborn are treated with antibiotics such as penicillin or ampicillin. These are injected into a vein. 
    • The tenure of the treatment in newborns is usually continued for 10-14 days, but it may take a longer time. Six to eight weeks if there is pus that is lingering on, along with heart valve that is infected or osteomyelitis.
  2. Common Cold in Newborns

    There are more than 100 viruses that cause the common cold. Rhinoviruses are the commonest of all. Infection of the nose and throat is what a common cold is all about.

    A virus that infects your newborn baby makes the baby immune since there is a contribution of a lot of viruses in causing the cold. There may be several colds a year for your child awaiting and many through her life. These viruses n ever offer a long-lasting immunity.

    Your newborn gets infected with a virus through your baby’s mouth, nose or eyes. A common cold virus enters your baby's mouth, nose or eyes. Your newborn can be infected with a virus from the following sources:

    Air: Someone who is already infected with the cold sneezes, talks or coughs near your newborn can directly spread the virus to your baby.

    Direct Contact: Someone who is affected with cold is making a physical contact with your baby will leads to catching of common cold in your newborn.

    Contaminated Surfaces: Some viruses live on the exterior such as on the surface of bed sheets, toys, pillows etc. When your newborn baby comes in contact with such contaminated surfaces then it will catch common cold.

    Treatment For Common Cold In Newborn Babies

    No proper cure is established for the common cold in anyone including newborn babies. Antibiotics do not work against the cold viruses. Your newborn baby must be made comfortable with measures such as suctioning the nasal mucus and keeping the air moist. 

    OTC or Over-the-counter aid can be used with caution in newborn babies. The fever-reducing medications should be used cautiously with attention paid to the proper dosage only if your child is uncomfortable with fever. Common cough and cold medications should be avoided for the newborns. FDA or The Food and Drug Administration heavily suggest avoiding OTC medications for the newborn babies, as they are dangerous for the baby.

    Prevention Of Common Cold In Newborn Babies

    • The best way of intercepting common cold is with a pinch of common sense and soap water. 
    • Sick people or people affected with common cold should be kept away from newborn babies. Try to reduce the public transport and gatherings with your newborn.
    • Your hands should be washed before touching or feeding the baby. If soap and water are not available, try using hand wipes or hand washes that contain alcohol.
    • Your baby’s toys and pacifiers should always be kept clean. This goes a long way in preventing diseases in your newborn.
    • Everyone in the house should be taught to cough or sneeze into a tissue. If tissue is not available, then cough or sneeze in your arm’s crook.
  3. Listeriosis In Newborn Babies

    The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes causes infections such as pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis in newborns. Not properly cooked food or drinking unpasteurized milk can give someone listeriosis. 

    Causes of Listeriosis In Newborn Babies

    Mothers should be taken care during their tenure of pregnancy to prevent listeriosis in newborn babies. There are certain listed causes for pregnant women getting infected from Listeria monocytogenes and ultimately leading the newborn babies to suffer. 

    • Soil contaminated raw vegetables or the soil from where the manure has been used as a fertilizer must not be consumed by the pregnant mother. 
    • Animal meat that is consumed by the mother must be properly cooked to prevent your baby catching listeriosis.
    • Foods that are made from unpasteurized milk must not be consumed by the mother.
    • Soft cheeses hot dogs and deli meats should be avoided.
    • Food cooked must pertain to a proper internal temperature.
    • Before eating, always wash the fruits and vegetables to prevent listeriosis in newborns.
    • Always drink pasteurized milk and milk must be refrigerated at the appropriate temperature, below 4 degree Celsius.
    • Unpasteurized milk products must be avoided to prevent listeriosis in newborn babies.

    Treatment for Listeriosis In Newborn Babies

    Newborn babies should be treated with antibiotics in a hospital. The proper dosage of the antibiotics should be given and should be used with utmost caution in newborn babies.

    Prevention of Listeriosis In Newborn Babies

    • Your hands must be thoroughly clean with warm, soapy water before and after preparing food. Post cooking use hot and soapy water to clean the utensils and all the things used to prepare food. 
    • Use a scrub brush or vegetable brush to clean the raw vegetables under plenty of running water.
    • A food thermometer must be used to make sure that the meat, poultry and egg dishes are cooked to a proper safe temperature. This helps a lot in preventing Listeriosis in newborn babies.
  4. Conjunctivitis in Newborn Babies

    Few newborns experience an inflammation of the membranes that cover the eyes which is called pinkeye or conjunctivitis. Symptoms of conjunctivitis in newborn babies include red-eyes, swelling and discharge from the eyes. Common causes of conjunctivitis are bacteria and viruses.

    Causes of Conjunctivitis in Newborn Babies

    Inclusion Conjunctivitis in Newborns: Women with the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis transfer this genital infection. Women treated with conjunctivitis pass the bacteria to their child which is the reason for this conjunctivitis among newborn.

    Gonococcal Conjunctivitis in Newborns: Neisseria gonorrhoea causes Gonococcal conjunctivitis. Women who are not treated for gonorrhoea transfer the bacteria during the birth to their newborn baby and this is how the eyelids of the baby get swollen up and the disease gets transferred.

    Chemical Conjunctivitis in Newborns: When eye drops are instilled into newborn’s eyes to stop bacterial infection, then this leads to irritation of the eyes of the newborns and is called chemical conjunctivitis.

    Neonatal Conjunctivitis: This conjunctivitis in newborns occurs from Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoea passed from the mother to the baby during the birth when the baby passes through the birth canal. This occurs when the mother is not treated properly for these sexually transmitted diseases.

    Treatment for Conjunctivitis in Newborns

    Antibiotic eye drops and ointment can be used to treat conjunctivitis in a newborn. The infection can be very contagious and if things get serious then hospitalization is urgent. Oral antibiotics are given if the conjunctivitis is chlamydial in nature. Intravenous antibiotics need to be given if the newborn has Gonococcal conjunctivitis. If not treated well, then the newborn would develop corneal ulceration and can even lose eyesight. 

    Chemical conjunctivitis in newborn usually gets better in twenty-four to thirty-six hours. 

    A mild warm compress applied gently to the eye of the newborn is soothing for swelling and irritation. Be sure to wash your hands before and after touching the eyes of your newborn baby.

    Prevention Of Conjunctivitis In Newborn

    Pregnant mothers suffering from genital herpes should talk to their physician about ways to prevent conjunctivitis in newborn.

    The newborn’s infected eye should be rinsed with a saline solution to remove the crust. The newborn can be given gentle and warm message between the eye and nasal area to help clear the tear duct.

  5. Sepsis In Newborn

    Sepsis is an infection that accounts the spread of germs all throughout the body’s blood and tissues. Viruses, fungi, parasites or bacteria cause sepsis.

    Causes Of Sepsis In Newborn Baby

    Some of the causes of sepsis in a newborn baby are:

    • Membranes or the amniotic sacs if ruptured prematurely for an extended length of time can cause sepsis in the newborn.
    • Problems such as bleeding is a striking cause of sepsis in the newborn.
    • Problems during labour or delivery difficulties can also cause sepsis in the newborn.
    • Placental tissues infection or uterus infection can be an alarming cause of sepsis in the newborn.
    • If the mother is suffering from fever, then it can also cause sepsis in the newborn.

    Prevention of Sepsis in the Newborn Babies

    Pregnant women may need preventive antibiotics if they have:

    • Chorioamnionitis.
    • Strep colonization, group B.
    • Have had a previous baby born with sepsis.

    Other things that can help prevent sepsis in a newborn include:

    • Preventive antibiotic treatments must be rendered immediately if the sepsis is at an increased risk for the babies. Treatment and preventing infections in mothers with HSV.
    • Having a proper birthplace.
    • The baby should be delivered within 12 to 24 hours after the amniotic membranes break. Whereas, the caesarean delivery should be done within four to six hours of rupture of amniotic membranes.
    • To diagnose or rule out sepsis, doctors draw blood and sometimes examine cerebrospinal fluid and other body fluids to look for bacteria or other germs.

    Treatment of Sepsis in the Newborn

    Treatment of sepsis in the newborn depends on the cause of the sepsis, medical history, overall health, the baby’s age, the extent of the sepsis, the type of therapies, procedures medications which the newborn baby can tolerate. Treatment of sepsis in the newborn also depends on the disease course expectation, the preference of the parents. The main line of treatment of sepsis in the newborn babies is antibiotics.

Conclusion

These are the top 5 diseases that a newborn can suffer with. These diseases do have a lot of risk factors along with them. Henceforth; women when pregnant should undergo proper and careful check up and do all the possible tests to make sure that their baby is fine and is not infected with any disease. 

Like Carly Simon says, “It may not always be easy, but you're the love of my life. My heart is riding on a runaway train; you are the love of my life. Through all the pleasure and pain, from the moment I first saw you, I knew it right away. I knew that you were the love of my life. Simply the love of my life, you are the love. The great love of my life.” Keep the future of our country safe parents.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 23, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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