Newborn babies can get infections easily because the immune system is not well developed. The immune system is the body’s defense against infection. Premature babies are more likely to get an infection.
A baby can get sick very fast. If an infection is found and treated early, your baby should do well. If your baby is not treated until later, she may get very sick and need intensive care at the hospital to recover.
Babies can be infected before, during, or after birth from bacteria or viruses.
Most newborn infections are caused by bacteria that normally live in the mother's birth canal. The baby may swallow or breathe in the fluid in the birth canal and then the bacteria may get into the baby's lungs and bloodstream.
Sometimes newborns catch a viral infection. Viruses cause colds, flu, and some diseases such as herpes and chickenpox. A virus may travel into a baby's bloodstream before birth if the mother is infected. Sometimes a newborn catches a virus after birth from contact with someone who has a viral infection.
Symptoms depend on the type of infection. Babies often have short periods of fussiness or not feeding well. However, if these symptoms continue or your baby has the following symptoms, it may mean that your baby has an infection:
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your baby’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Tests may include:
Treatment depends on how sick your baby is and what type of infection she has. If your baby is not very sick, you may be able to give her medicine to treat infections at home. If your baby is very sick, she will be treated in the hospital. She will be given medicine and fluids through an IV. Your baby may be fed through a tube, and may need oxygen to help her breathe.
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when you should bring your child back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.