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Ophthalmia neonatorum

Extracted from Survival Guide to Midwifery, 2nd Edition (2012) Diane M. Fraser and Margaret A. Cooper, Oxford; Churchill Livingstone: 2012. Courtesy Elsevier

Ophthalmia neonatorum is a notifiable condition. It involves a purulent discharge from the eyes of an infant that occurs within 21 days of birth. The condition is usually acquired during vaginal birth and causative organisms include:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Ereschichia coli
  • Klebsella
  • Pseudomonas
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Neisseria gonorrheae

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause conjunctival scarring, corneal infiltration, blindness and systemic spread.

Treatment involves local cleaning and care of the eyes with normal saline and appropriate drug therapy for the baby (and mother if required).

See also Neonatal infections

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