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What are the symptoms of neonatal sepsis?

Most neonates with sepsis present with non-specific, subtle signs and symptoms evident in many body systems. Common clinical manifestations include:

  • poor thermoregulation
  • respiratory distress
  • apnea or dyspnea
  • pallor and poor circulation
  • poor feeding, diarrhea or abdominal distension
  • lethargy or irritability
  • full orbulging fontanel
  • jaundice, ecchymosis or petechiae.

Because sepsis affects the whole body and can be caused by a variety of bacteria, it can produce a wide range of symptoms. Common early symptoms include reduced activity, body temperature abnormality, and low heart rate. Later symptoms include problems breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures. In late-onset neonatal sepsis, meningitis is common. Sepsis resulting from Group B streptococcus (GBS) specifically often weakens the lungs, and can produce pneumonia.

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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.