Early Treatment of Neonatal Sepsis Is Critical to Preventing Brain Damage and Cerebral Palsy

David W. Hodges
David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.

Neonatal sepsis is a life-threatening bacterial infection a newborn baby can develop if his mother passes the infection to him in A Monitor in a Baby's Hospital Roompregnancy, labor, or delivery. If not treated immediately, neonatal sepsis can enter the baby’s central nervous system or cause inflammation of the brain. This can result in the baby developing meningitis, which is the membranes surrounding the spinal cord or brain becoming inflamed, and can result in brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Doctors must recognize the symptoms of neonatal sepsis and closely monitor newborns that are at high risk of developing this infection. Risk factors and causes of neonatal sepsis that need to be watched for include:

  • A traumatic delivery of the baby
  • Group b streptococcus, E coli, or herpes simplex virus
  • A lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during delivery or shortly afterwards
  • A mother’s infection
  • A low birth weight
  • Urinary tract abnormalities in the mother
  • Early rupture of the membranes
  • A premature or preterm birth

Treatment Options for Neonatal Sepsis to Prevent Cerebral Palsy

Neonatal sepsis is usually diagnosed with a blood test. However, it can take a long time to receive blood test results and the results may come back as a false negative. Because of this, doctors must also perform clinical assessments and other lab tests, such as urine cultures, to determine if the baby is at risk of this infection. Immediate treatment should begin immediately if there is any risk the baby has this condition. Treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics such as ampicillin in combination with gentamicin or cefotaxime.
  • Clindamycin can be administered if anaerobic species are the suspected cause of the infection.

If possible, ceftriaxone should be avoided because it can cause kernicterus, which is an infection that can lead to cerebral palsy.

If your baby developed cerebral palsy due to failure to promptly treat neonatal sepsis, help may be available. You may be entitled to compensation from the doctor and hospital that committed medical malpractice.

If your baby suffered neonatal sepsis that caused his cerebral palsy, we urge you to contact an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to learn how we may be able to help you.