India witnesses more than 50,000 infant deaths due to this condition every year
New Delhi, July 09, 2018: Hospitalized infants are at high risk of developing drug-resistant hospital-acquired infections due to a rise in bacterial resistance. The susceptibility of newborns to sepsis is compounded, as diagnosing serious bacterial infections in them is challenging and symptoms difficult to detect. About 40% of the global burden of sepsis-related neonatal deaths is in South Asia. In India alone, about 56,500 neonatal deaths every year are attributable to sepsis caused by anti-microbial resistance to drugs.
Neonatal sepsis is a systemic infection occurring in infants at ≤28 days of life and is an important cause of morbidity and mortality of newborns. Early-onset sepsis is seen in the first week of life occurs after 1 week and before 3 months of age. This condition can be attributed to bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E.coli), Listeria, and some strains of streptococcus.
In a Joint Statement, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, & Dr Akhil Saxena, Senior Paediatricians Kota said, “The immune systems in newborns are not fully developed and therefore, sepsis at this stage can be potentially life threatening. The infection is mostly passed on from the pregnant mother to the baby. However, in less common cases, it can also be picked up from the immediate environment. Most babies with such infections can recover completely with timely intervention. The more quickly an infant gets treatment, the better the outcome. In the absence of this, they can develop complications including lifelong disability. In case of infants with this condition, the normal immune system response is sent into overdrive, causing a blood condition which is potentially harmful to the baby’s health. Under such conditions, the body produces excessive white blood cells to fight the infection.
Symptoms of neonatal sepsis in infants include changes in body temperature, breathing problems, diarrhea, low blood sugar, reduced movements, reduced sucking, seizures, slow or fast heart rate, swollen belly area, vomiting, and yellow skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice).
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Complications during pregnancy and after birth can create high-risk conditions for neonatal sepsis. Infants who do not receive timely treatment can succumb to multiple organ failure. In other cases, the blood pressure may drop – what can be called a septic shock. This can be fatal if the doctor does not administer antibiotics and large quantities of intravenous fluids to flush out and fight the infection in the blood.”
Some prevention tips to avert neonatal sepsis
- Pregnant women should maintain proper hygiene. They should be given preventive antibiotics in case of Chorioamnionitis, Group B strep colonization, or a previous baby with sepsis caused by bacteria.
- It is important to prevent and treat infections in mothers, including HSV
- There should be a provision of a clean place for birth.
- The baby should be delivered within 12 to 24 hours of when the membranes break. In case of complications, a cesarean delivery should be done in women within 4 to 6 hours or sooner of membranes breaking.