Learning About Sepsis in Newborns

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What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a reaction of the body to widespread infection. It's a serious illness that needs to be treated in a hospital.

Newborns can get sepsis because their immune systems aren't very strong yet. This makes it hard to fight off some infections, such as group B streptococcus, E. coli, herpes, or pneumococcus.

Your baby's doctor will quickly test for the cause of your baby's infection and then treat it.

Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. But the hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.

How is sepsis treated?

Your baby will get antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria. The medicine may be given into a blood vessel. This may be done through a vein in the belly button or in another location.

Sepsis can lower blood pressure. So your baby may also get medicine to help raise his or her blood pressure.

What can you expect when your baby has sepsis?

Your baby will be kept comfortable and warm.

You may see tubes and wires attached to your baby. This can be scary to see. But these things help the doctor treat your baby. The tubes supply air, fluid, and medicines to your baby. The wires are attached to machines that help the doctor keep track of your baby's vital signs. These include temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse rate.

If your baby has trouble breathing, the doctor may use a ventilator. This machine helps your baby breathe. To use the machine, the doctor puts a soft tube through your baby's mouth into the windpipe.

It's hard to be apart from your baby, especially when you worry about his or her condition. Know that the hospital staff is well prepared to care for babies with this condition. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, ask for support from friends and family. You can also ask the hospital staff about counselling and support.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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