Understand the Warning Signs of Neonatal Sepsis to Help Prevent Cerebral Palsy

Gabriel A. Assaad
Partner Gabriel Assaad represents victims of negligence and medical malpractice nationwide.

One of the most traumatic experiences new parents can go through is knowing that their newborn baby has a life-threatening infection that could result in serious, permanent complications. Unfortunately, neonatal sepsis is a dangerous bacterial infection in the baby’s bloodstream that can damage the baby’s brain either through infection of the central nervous system or by causing inflammation of the brain. If a doctor does not quickly recognize the warning signs that a baby has neonatal sepsis, the infection can cause the baby to develop seizures, cerebral palsy, meningitis, or die.

12 Symptoms of Neonatal Sepsis

Neonatal sepsis is often passed unknowingly from the mother to her baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. A premature baby who is in neonatal intensive care is also at risk of developing this bacterial infection from the intravenous (IV) lines, catheters, and breathing tubes he may need as part of his medical care. Signs that a baby has this life-threatening infection include:

  • Seizures or jaundice.
  • Breathing problems or respiratory distress, such as fast breathing or respiratory failure.
  • Required use of a breathing machine and increased amounts of oxygen.
  • Episodes of apnea where breathing stops.
  • Heart rate begins slowing. This usually occurs in later stages of neonatal sepsis.
  • Diminished appetite and he has problems holding down his feedings.
  • Body temperature is unstable.
  • Low blood pressure or other evidence that blood is not circulating properly throughout the body.
  • Skin is cool to the touch and the coloring is bluish.
  • Exhibits neurological changes, such as becoming irritable, lethargic, or non-responsive.
  • Urine production diminishes.
  • Body that seems lethargic or floppy.

If not caught early, the infection can enter the central nervous system and cause inflammation of the brain. This can lead to Nurse in Blue Scrubs Holding a Sepsis Signmeningitis—the inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain—which can cause cerebral palsy when there is brain damage.

Cerebral palsy is a permanent disorder that affects your baby’s ability to move and could also result in vision, speech, hearing, and mental impairments. If your baby developed this condition because your doctor did not treat neonatal sepsis early enough, you may have a medical malpractice claim against the doctor. You need to pursue your baby’s legal rights so that he receives the medical care and assistance that he needs. Call our experienced legal team at 855-947-0707 for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your legal options.