Early-onset sepsis is caused by an infection from the mother. It may pass to the infant from the placenta or birth canal during birth. Late-onset sepsis is caused by bacteria from the healthcare environment.
This problem is more common in babies that are:
Born very early
Born with a low birth weight
Other things that may raise the risk are:
A mother whose water broke more than 18 hours before giving birth
Group B streptococcal bacteria in the mother's vaginal or rectal areas
Babies that need early care, such as a catheter
Symptoms may be:
Fever or many changes in temperature
Lack of energy
A high-pitched cry
Yellow, blue, or pale skin
Bruising or bleeding
Cool, clammy skin
Fast breathing, problems breathing, or periods of no breathing
Neonatal sepsis (sepsis neonatorum). The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/infections_in_neonates/neonatal_sepsis.html. Updated July 2018. Accessed January 7, 2020.
Shane AL, Sánchez PJ, et al. Neonatal sepsis. Lancet. 2017 Oct 14;390(10104):1770-1780.
Last reviewed September 2019 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 7/28/2020
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