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Kidz First Neonatal Care

Public Service, Paediatrics, Intensive Care

Possible Infection

Your baby may be tested or treated because of the risk of infection.  The usual reason for this check is if your baby has some problem like a temperature, fast breathing, lack of energy or poor feeding.
What is wrong?
Babies can develop an infection, just like adults.  For example, they may get pneumonia or a urine infection.  Because babies are small and cannot tell us what is wrong, we prefer to give them treatment (e.g. antibiotics) to prevent problems rather than wait and see.
Who is at risk?
Babies are more likely to get an infection if:
  • the waters broke more than 24 hours before birth
  • the mother had a high temperature during labour
  • the baby is born before it is due.
Is it serious?
Most infections are not serious for the baby.  The doctors will tell you if they think an infection is serious.
What are the tests?
  • A blood test and urine test to see if any bugs grow.
  • A chest x-ray.
  • Lumbar Puncture (a spinal fluid test to see if any bugs grow).
What is the treatment?
  • Your baby will have a drip and be given antibiotics.
  • Sometimes a baby may need other treatment like oxygen or CPAP.
How long?
  • Some babies will turn out not to have an infection and will only be given antibiotics for 48 hours.
  • All other babies are given antibiotics for as long as is needed.  This is usually 5 days but can be longer.
  • Any baby who is feeding normally and is not too sick can be with their mother on the postnatal ward.
Special checks
  • Unless the baby has been very sick, there will be no need for special checks after going home.

This page was last updated at 11:31AM on September 3, 2021.