Your activity: 2 p.v.

Patient education: Sepsis in newborn babies (The Basics)

Patient education: Sepsis in newborn babies (The Basics)

What is sepsis? — Sepsis is an infection in the blood. It is a serious illness that affects the whole body. Sepsis needs to be treated right away because it can be life threatening.

Sepsis can happen in babies, children, and adults. "Sepsis in newborn babies" is when sepsis happens in babies younger than 1 month old. Doctors and nurses call it "neonatal sepsis."

What are the symptoms of sepsis in newborn babies? — Symptoms of sepsis in newborn babies can include:

A fever – But some babies have a low or normal body temperature instead of a fever.

Trouble breathing or breathing faster than normal

Feeding less than usual


Jaundice – Jaundice is the word doctors use when a baby's skin or white part of the eye turns yellow.

Sleeping more than usual

The fingertips and lips looking slightly blue

Should I call my baby's doctor or nurse? — Yes. If your baby has any of the symptoms above, or isn't acting normally, call their doctor or nurse right away.

Will my baby need tests? — Yes. If your baby's doctor suspects sepsis, they will do blood tests, including a test called "blood cultures." Blood cultures can check for an infection in the blood.

Many babies also need other tests to check if they have an infection in another part of their body. These tests might include:

A lumbar puncture (sometimes called a "spinal tap") – During this procedure, a doctor will put a thin needle into your baby's lower back and remove a small sample of spinal fluid. Spinal fluid is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. They will do lab tests on the sample.

Urine tests

A chest X-ray

How is sepsis in newborn babies treated? — Sepsis in newborn babies is treated in the hospital. The doctor will give your baby antibiotic medicines that go into their vein through a tube called an "IV."

More on this topic

Patient education: Fever in children (The Basics)
Patient education: Jaundice in babies (The Basics)

Patient education: Fever in children (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jan 01, 2023.
This generalized information is a limited summary of diagnosis, treatment, and/or medication information. It is not meant to be comprehensive and should be used as a tool to help the user understand and/or assess potential diagnostic and treatment options. It does NOT include all information about conditions, treatments, medications, side effects, or risks that may apply to a specific patient. It is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for the medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a health care provider based on the health care provider's examination and assessment of a patient's specific and unique circumstances. Patients must speak with a health care provider for complete information about their health, medical questions, and treatment options, including any risks or benefits regarding use of medications. This information does not endorse any treatments or medications as safe, effective, or approved for treating a specific patient. UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates disclaim any warranty or liability relating to this information or the use thereof. The use of this information is governed by the Terms of Use, available at ©2023 UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.
Topic 17189 Version 6.0