Possible infections

Your baby is being treated or tested because of the risk of infection. The usual reason for this check is that the baby has been at risk due to problems in labour or has some problems 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 give them treatment 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 12 hours before birth.

  • The mother has a 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 full blood count to check the number of white blood cells.

  • A blood test and a urine test to see if any bugs grow.

  • Possibly a spinal fluid test to see if any bugs grow.

  • A chest x-ray.

What is the treatment?

Your baby will have a drip and be given antibiotics this way. Sometimes a baby may need other treatment like oxygen or help with their breathing.

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 five days but can be longer depending on what the infection is or how sick the baby is.

Any baby who is feeding normally and is not too sick can be with the mother on the postnatal ward while still having antibiotics.

Special checks

Unless the baby has been very sick there will be no need for special checks after going home.

If you have concerns or want more information about your baby, ask the doctor or nurse providing your baby's care.