Meningitis in Babies


What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spine (meninges). Meningitis can establish extremely rapidly and is very severe.

Meningitis can be causes by bacteria or a virus:

  • Bacterial meningitis. This is the most severe type of meningitis. It can be dangerous and can lead to major impairments, such as deafness or brain damage. Bacterial meningitis can also result in blood poisoning (septicaemia) if it’s untreated, as bacteria can get in the bloodstream and multiply rapidly. Septicaemia causes a purple rash and is extremely unsafe.
  • Viral meningitis. This is the most typical type and can be relatively mild and seem a bit like flu. Some people who have it are not even aware that they have an infection.

How can my baby get meningitis?

Your baby can get viral meningitis when the bacteria is transferred into the air when someone coughs or sneezes nearby. It’s likewise spread by bad health, such as not cleaning your hands after going to the toilet.

The bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis don’t live long outside the body. So your baby can only get it from remaining in extremely close contact with an infected individual. This usually indicates living in the same house as somebody with bacterial meningitis. Your baby can get the bacteria from:

  • being kissed or touched
  • people sneezing and coughing nearby
  • sharing consuming and drinking utensils and other personal items, such as tooth brushes

The majority of cases of bacterial meningitis are isolated, however clusters occasionally appear. Individuals who share a house with someone with bacterial meningitis are typically provided prescription antibiotics as a safety measure because of the danger of infection.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

There’s no textbook pattern to meningitis. Symptoms can occur in any order or might not appear at all. You will not have the ability to tell if your baby has bacterial or viral meningitis unless she is tested. The early symptoms of both types of meningitis can be extremely comparable. This is why it’s crucial to get medical assistance as quickly as you see any warning signs.

If your baby reveals any of the follow symptoms, phone 999 for an ambulance or take her to the nearest mishap and emergency situation (A&E):

  • unusual, screeching cry or moaning.
  • grunting or rapid breathing.
  • being fretful or irritable when touched.
  • throwing up.
  • refusing food.
  • pale or blotchy skin.
  • being floppy, listless, or unresponsive.
  • being drowsy or tough to wake.
  • having a fever with cold hands or feet (although this is less common in young infants).
  • a bulging fontanelle (soft spot at the top of your baby’s head).
  • poor feeding.
  • spots or a rash (see below, What should I keep an eye out for?).

Many of the symptoms commonly associated with meningitis just appear when the disease is currently advanced. Lots of the symptoms are also much like other youth diseases, such as flu. If you are anxious, get medical aid immediately. Do not wait.

I have actually heard that meningitis causes a rash. What should I watch out for?

If your baby has bacterial meningitis and it has become septicaemia, she will get a rash. The rash will appear under her skin as a cluster of small spots. They appear like pinpricks and can begin anywhere on her body.

If your baby’s septicaemia goes untreated, the spots establish a bruise-like look, followed by purple skin damage and discolouration. If your baby has darker skin, the rash can be harder to see, so check paler areas of her body.

You can use the glass test to look for a meningitis rash. Press the side of a clear drinking glass on to the spots. A meningitis rash does not fade. The rash might fade initially so keep examining. If you have any doubt, phone 999 for an ambulance right away.

The rash is among the later signs of septicaemia, after which your baby’s condition can rapidly end up being important. Check on your baby frequently throughout the day if you are concerned her health problem is getting worse. Even if no rash establishes but your baby’s condition is deteriorating quickly, take her to A&E immediately.

When should I see the doctor?

If you think your baby has meningitis, see a doctor for treatment straight away. The earlier she has prescription antibiotics the greater the chance that she will endure without issues. Always trust your instincts.
How is meningitis detected?

Your doctor will provide your baby a blood test or a lumbar leak to identify meningitis. A lumbar puncture involves inserting a hollow needle into your baby’s lower spinal column to remove a sample of fluid from the spinal cord. This fluid will then be sent out to the laboratory to be checked.

It’s bound to be traumatic to see your baby going through these tests. However the tests have to be performed to confirm for sure whether your baby has meningitis. If your doctor believes bacterial meningitis, he will give your baby prescription antibiotics as quickly as possible, prior to the test results have actually been verified.

The lumbar puncture takes less than 20 minutes and your baby might have a headache afterwards.

What is the treatment for meningitis?

Your baby’s treatment will depend on what kind of meningitis she has:

  • Viral meningitis treatment

Viral meningitis doesn’t react to prescription antibiotics, so your baby will simply need rest and care. It typically clears up quickly, though your baby may remain to have headaches and feel low and exhausted for a long time.

In really rare cases, viral meningitis can cause inflammation of the brain (sleeping sickness). If this occurs, your baby may require antiviral treatment.

  • Bacterial meningitis treatment

Bacterial meningitis requires immediate treatment with prescription antibiotics. Your baby will have to go to hospital and, in severe cases, to an intensive care system. She will be given antibiotics through a drip in her arm, and she will need additional oxygen through a mask.

Your baby will likewise be fed through a drip. It could take anything in between a week, a month, or more for your baby to recover, depending on how ill she is.

How to prevent meningitis in babies?

Your baby can be immunized versus some forms of meningitis:

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib) will be offered to your baby at 2 months, three months, and 4 months. It secures against bacterial infections that can cause meningitis.
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) will be offered at two months, four months, and 12 months to 13 months. It safeguards versus the pneumococcus virus, which is the reason for one in 10 cases of bacterial meningitis.
  • Meningitis B vaccine will be offered at 2 months, 4 months and 12 months (for infants born upon or after 1 July 2015). It safeguards against the B strain of meningitis. Babies born on or after 1 May 2015 will be consisted of in a temporary MenB catch-up program.
  • Meningitis C vaccine will be provided at 3 months with a combined Hib and meningitis C booster at 12 months. It secures against the C strain of meningitis.

Can newborns get meningitis?

It’s extremely unusual for newborns to contract meningitis in the UK. The condition is called neonatal meningitis when it impacts babies.

Neonatal meningitis is usually brought on by bacteria such as E coli, group B streptococcus, or listeria. Infants can enter contact with these bacteria during birth if their mums carry the bacteria in their stomach or vaginal area.

Premature children born prior to 33 weeks and children born with a low birth weight are most likely to get neonatal meningitis.

Neonatal meningitis can be hard to identify. If you are at all stressed over your newborn, and she doesn’t appear well, get immediate medical recommendations.


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