Sepsis | Birth Injury Lawyers - RB Law
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Sepsis | Romanucci & Blandin

When a newborn develops sepsis, it is called neonatal sepsis, and it is a very critical condition where the baby develops an infection in their bloodstream.  Sepsis can cause serious birth injuries, including:

Group B streptococcus (GBS) and chorioamnionitis are two types of infections that the baby can develop before or during delivery, and they can cause sepsis, meningitis, cerebral palsy or seizures.   Babies can also develop sepsis if the mom’s water broke too early or if they were a preterm delivery.

What are the Risk Factors?

There is a much higher risk for developing sepsis if the baby is very young and very small.  Other risk factors and causes of neonatal sepsis, seizures, meningitis and cerebral palsy include:

  • Escherichia coli (E coli)
  • Group b streptococcus (GBS)
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain shortly before or during delivery (hypoxia / hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE))
  • Maternal infection
  • Premature / preterm birth
  • Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM)
  • Staph infections
  • Traumatic delivery
  • Urinary tract abnormalities in the mother
  • Very low birth weight of the baby

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

It is critical that sepsis is diagnosed and treated immediately in order to prevent a worse outcome for the baby.  Sepsis can cause the baby to have a permanent brain injury and cerebral palsy and can also cause death.

The signs and symptoms of neonatal sepsis include:

  • Apnea
  • Bluish appearance
  • Breathing problems and respiratory distress •is on a breathing machine (ventilator) and needs more and more help from the vent;
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Hypotonic
  • Neurological changes such as irritability, fatigue and non-responsiveness
  • Not producing sufficient urine
  • Seizures and / or jaundice;
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Temperature instability and / or an increase in heart rate (tachycardia);

How are Babies Evaluated and Treated for Sepsis?

The only real way to diagnose sepsis is to take a blood culture.  Babies can also be evaluated for sepsis using the following methods:

  • Testing cerebral spinal fluid (CSF)
  • Testing for inflammatory markers
  • Urine culture

A very reliable, but costly test is the molecular diagnostic blood test that can identify sepsis-relevant microorganisms in the baby’s blood.  Unfortunately, due to the cost, some hospitals do not offer this test.  If a baby is experiencing symptoms of sepsis, most physicians will take blood cultures, including a complete blood count (CBC) and a culture of the CSF.  Babies may also be tested for signs of inflammation.

Neonatal sepsis is treated with antibiotics.  Ampicillin is often used in conjunction with gentamicin or cefotaxime.  However, ceftriaxone should be avoided if possible because it can place the baby at risk for kernicterus.  Clindamycin may also be added if anaerobic species are thought to be the cause of neonatal sepsis, but this is extremely rare.

How can Sepsis and Meningitis Cause Cerebral Palsy?

If a baby has sepsis and their infection has entered their central nervous system or has caused their brain to become inflamed, they may develop meningitis.  Meningitis can cause a fluid build-up in the baby’s brain, a brain abscess, increased brain pressure, hydrocephalus, stroke or cerebral infarction.  Any one of these conditions are extremely dangerous, so physicians should be sure to treat sepsis immediately to decrease the baby’s chance of developing meningitis.

If the baby has developed meningitis, they can suffer from brain damage and this brain damage can cause cerebral palsy, seizures, developmental delays or learning disabilities.

Free Consultation with a Chicago Birth Injury Attorney

RB Law has experience handling birth injury cases for problems resulting from sepsis.  If your baby has suffered a birth defect as a result of complications from sepsis, you need to contact a proficient birth injury attorney right away to help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you have questions regarding your birth injury case, contact us today for a free consultation at (312) 458-1000, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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