Neonatal Sepsis: Know The Signs

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Neonatal sepsis is a serious medical condition that poses a significant risk to the health and well-being of newborn infants. Sepsis is usually caused by a bacterial infection that affects the entire system. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi, sepsis can spread quickly through a baby’s bloodstream and cause serious issues with blood flow, immune system response, failure of the baby’s vital organs, and even death. 

An untreated or misdiagnosed condition that leads to sepsis is the basis for many medical malpractice claims. lead to severe complications and long-term health issues. In some tragic cases, late-onset neonatal sepsis can even lead to death. 

The birth injury attorneys at Mattlaw stand ready to help seek justice for bereaved families whose lives have been upended by infant death caused by neonatal sepsis. Please call us at 813-222-2222 to discuss your case, and meet our compassionate advocates.

If You Suspect Neonatal Sepsis, See A Doctor As Soon As Possible

If your baby is experiencing any of the above symptoms, take them to a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis. The earlier sepsis is detected, the easier it can be to treat. Sepsis can have life-long effects if it is diagnosed too late, so it is absolutely critical to treat every potential case of sepsis very seriously.

What is Neonatal Sepsis?

There are two primary forms of neonatal sepsis: early-onset (occurring within the first three days of life) and late-onset (occurring after the first three days of life). Both of these types require immediate medical attention, as untreated sepsis can lead to severe medical complications.

Early-Onset Neonatal Sepsis

This type of sepsis occurs within the first 72 hours of life; it typically appears within the first 24 hours after birth. It is associated with infections acquired from the mother before or during childbirth. Common sources of early-onset sepsis include Group B Streptococcus (GBS), Escherichia coli (E. coli), and other bacteria that can be present in the birth canal.

Late-Onset Neonatal Sepsis

Late-onset sepsis occurs after 72 hours of delivery; it can present several weeks or even months after birth. Unlike early-onset sepsis, late-onset sepsis is usually acquired from the environment: hospital settings, community exposure, or contact with individuals carrying infectious agents. Common pathogens involved in late-onset sepsis include Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci, and Gram-negative bacteria.

Early-onset neonatal sepsis commonly presents as hypothermia, respiratory distress, poor activity, and poor suck. Fever, convulsion, jaundice, and irritability are more common in late-onset neonatal sepsis. Fever and irritability were significantly associated with LOS.

Speak to a Sepsis Lawyer Now – 813-222-2222

Signs and Symptoms of Neonatal Sepsis

All parents should know the signs of sepsis, as early detection can make a big difference in a child’s health and prognosis. Neonatal sepsis can present in a variety of signs and symptoms, which may vary depending on the organism involved, and the severity of the infection. Below are some common indicators of neonatal sepsis.

Early-onset neonatal sepsis (EOS) and late-onset neonatal sepsis (LOS) are indicated at the end of each symptom description. There may be an overlap between the symptoms NOTE: This article is not intended to replace medical advice. Talk to your doctor immediately if you suspect your child of having a septic infection.

Symptoms of Early Onset Neonatal Sepsis

Difficulty Feeding. Infants with sepsis may have trouble feeding or may refuse to eat altogether. This is particularly common in cases of late-onset neonatal sepsis and among infants with very low birth weight. (EOS)

Cold, Clammy, or Mottled Skin. If your baby’s skin appears pale, patchy, or clammy to the touch, this may indicate poor circulation and potential sepsis-related complications. This symptom often accompanies others on this list, so be sure to look for other signs of sepsis. (EOS)

Symptoms of Late Onset Neonatal Sepsis

Fever and/or Hypothermia. Newborns with sepsis may exhibit an abnormal body temperature, either higher or lower than the normal range. As with any cold or infection, your body spikes a fever because this higher temperature makes it harder for the bacteria to survive. (LOS)

Lethargy or Irritability. Neonatal sepsis may present as tiredness, lethargy, and/or irritability. Spikes in fever alongside this symptom may be cause for concern, as this may indicate an enterovirus infection and potential organ failure. (LOS)

Respiratory Distress. Babies with sepsis may experience blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, rapid/labored breathing, grunting, and/or flaring of the nostrils. All of these signs can indicate respiratory distress, including pneumonia, and warrant immediate medical care. (LOS)

Jaundice. Jaundice may result in the yellowing of the skin and eyes, caused by liver dysfunction associated with the septic infection. The skin appears yellow due to excess amounts of bilirubin in the child’s bloodstream; when it dissolves into subcutaneous fat layers, it can cause a yellowish appearance in the skin, as well as in the whites of the eyes. (LOS)

When to Call A Sepsis Lawyer

When a medical professional fails to diagnose and/or treat their infant patient’s medical issues, this can lead to neonatal sepsis. Even if you only suspect that the treating doctor may have had a hand in your baby developing sepsis, it is always a good idea to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to determine your legal options.

As one of the preeminent medical malpractice firms in the United States, MattLaw stands ready to help. Call the sepsis lawyers at Mattlaw for your free consultation: (813) 222-2222.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Neonatal Sepsis

Diagnosing neonatal sepsis involves a combination of clinical assessments, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. Blood cultures are typically taken to identify the causative organism and other tests such as complete blood count (CBC) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels can also aid in sepsis diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a plenary list of diagnosis and treatment protocols for neonatal sepsis, including testing, antibiotics, and hospitalization in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for supportive care and monitoring.

3 Ways To Prevent Neonatal Sepsis

Neonatal sepsis is a critical condition requiring prompt medical attention—and preventing late-onset neonatal sepsis is a crucial aspect of maternal and neonatal healthcare. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential steps for improving outcomes and reducing the risk of neonatal sepsis complications. 

Mattlaw recommends that all doctors and medical professionals use these three strategies to help prevent neonatal sepsis”

  1. Prenatal Screening. Before your patient gives birth, it’s important to have her screened for any possible infections, particularly Group B Streptococcus, during regular prenatal care. You should be sure to administer all interventions promptly, and keep your patient informed of any additional preventive measures she may wish to take.
  2. Infection Control. It should go without saying, but hospital and medical environments should be rigorous in their infection control practices. This includes proper hygiene, aseptic techniques during and after childbirth, appropriate air quality, and maintaining a clean environment.
  3. Early Diagnosis and Treatment. Your healthcare professional should be diligent about recognizing the signs of neonatal sepsis, and be proactive in its timely intervention. This includes daily check-ins until the baby is fully healthy, and patient education, and rigorous medical standards before, during, and after delivery.

Talk to a Sepsis Lawyer Today

The sepsis lawyers at Mattlaw specialize in cases involving medical mistreatment and misdiagnosis leading to septic infections. If you believe that your child has been harmed by medical negligence resulting in a septic infection, call our medical malpractice attorneys immediately to discuss your case: 813-222-2222.

Matt Powell

About Matt

Matt Powell is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar who represents injured victims and their families. He is an experienced personal injury trial attorney who has been practicing since 1989 in Tampa, Florida. If you have any questions, feel free to call him at 813-222-2222 today.

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