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Neonatal sepsis


Neonatal sepsis is the major cause of mortality in term and preterm infants in the UK. The signs of sepsis are not always easy to spot and early detection and treatment are vital to give the baby the best chance of surviving. This resource guides you through some of the key signs of early onset neonatal sepsis, to enable midwives to recognise and appropriately refer babies as early as possible.

Learning aims and objectives

This article aims to describe neonatal sepsis, looking at definitions, signs and symptoms, risk factors, investigations, management and consequences.

On completion of this resource midwives and student midwives should be able to:

  • Understand that early detection and treatment saves lives
  • Recognise some of the signs of sepsis in neonates
  • Know that sepsis in a newborn can present with many different symptoms
  • Understand the risk factors for neonatal sepsis
  • Know that many cases of sepsis occur in babies who have no risk factors

Keywords and linking topics

Sepsis, septic shock, septicemia, infection, bacteremia, neonatal infection, group B streptococcus (GBS), Escherichia coli (E-coli), Staphylococcus aureus (Staph A), neonatal death, management of sepsis, neonatal observations

Activities and questions at the end of this resource will enable you to assess your knowledge and reflect on how you can incorporate it into your own practice. In the following questions, please select the answer that you believe to be correct. This will be marked and then you can move on to the next question. If you wish, at the end you can return for a further attempt at the questions.

Upon completion of the module, you will be able to download and save or print a certificate to include in your CPD/revalidation portfolio.