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What increases my newborn's risk of neonatal sepsis?

Dianne Parker
Dianne Parker on behalf of MDLIVE
Pediatrics
Newborns are at an increased risk of infection if they are premature, if the mother has a prenatal diagnosis of Group B strep, Herpes Simplex Virus, or other prenatal infection, or if the mother has had no prenatal care.

Neonatal sepsis may be acquired prenatally, during delivery or postnatally. Neonates are at risk for sepsis as a result of diminished non-specific and specific immunity. Preterm infants are at increased risk because of the premature withdrawal of the placental barrier and interruption of transplacental transmission of immunoglobulins to defend against infection. In addition, high risk infant are at increased risk because on invasive procedures and nosocomial exposure to pathogens in the hospital environment.

Early-onset sepsis usually stems from issues that arise during pregnancy. Any infection in the uterus or placenta can be a source of neonatal sepsis. A common source of infection is rupture of the amniotic sac during pregnancy or in labor long before delivery. Late-onset sepsis is often acquired in hospitals; risk for this condition is associated with other medical complications. The insertion of IVs into neonates in intensive care is a particularly common source for infection. Preterm delivery is one of the largest risk factors, because the newborn's body will be less developed and because more hospital care will be necessary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.