When babies are born, their immune system is not yet developed fully. In the womb, the mother’s immune system fights away infections that might cause harm to the fetus. When the baby is born, this protection is absent, which makes newborns susceptible to catching infections and illnesses. The risk of contracting serious illnesses is higher in the first 3 months, but decreases post this period. Babies do, however, remain quite susceptible to infections and illnesses until their immune system develops fully.
What Are The Symptoms?
Bacteria, viruses, and parasites may infect babies if they come in contact with them. So babies are susceptible to most of these infections. Common symptoms that might be seen in a baby that’s caught something are:
Fluctuations in temperature
Lack of appetite
In some cases, infections may cause rashes or skin irritations.
Diseases that are contracted by newborns or in the first 4 weeks after birth are referred to as neonatal infections. If you do notice any signs of sickness in your baby, you should contact the doctor first and foremost because treatment is the first priority.
Some of the common problems contracted by babies include:
Jaundice – yellowing of the skin
Diseases caused by the bacteria streptococcus
Diseases caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes
Diseases caused due to E coli infections
These included diseases like:
Sepsis – infection of the blood
Conjunctivitis – inflammation of the membrane of the eye
Pneumonia – lung infection
Meningitis – inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord
Urinary tract infections
There is another category of diseases known as congenital diseases which pass from the mother to the newborn, and may, therefore, be present at birth. These include diseases like HIV, chicken pox, herpes, rubella, and many more. A very common congenital disease is cytomegalovirus, which leads to loss of or impairment in hearing.
What needs to be kept in mind is that babies, especially newborns, are extremely susceptible to contracting diseases. This is why it becomes essential to minimize the risk of your baby catching an infection. There are simple ways to do this. They include:
Washing your hands periodically and before handling your baby to ensure that minimal amount of bacteria is present on your hands.
Keeping any surface that your baby may come in contact with clean and bacteria free.
Ensuring that you clean your baby so that any bacteria that may be present on your little one’s skin is washed off.
Ensure that any pacifiers or bottles or other objects that your baby comes in contact with are sterilized.
In the case of congenital infections, mothers should get themselves tested beforehand so that medicines and antibiotics may be prescribed to them to reduce the chances of the disease being passed on to the fetus. Another important point to note is that the best way to prevent your child from getting some common diseases is to get your baby immunized as and when suggested by your doctor. Immunization provides long term protection from the disease for which the vaccines have been administered.
Treating these infections require the attention of a medical professional. Most of the diseases that have been mentioned would require the administration of antibiotics for your child. For some problems such as conjunctivitis, treatment may involve administering some eye drops. For problems like rashes, ointment may be prescribed. Keeping the fragile nature of babies in mind, be sure to take them to a doctor instead of trying to fix the problem at home, regardless of how small it may seem. Remember that babies don’t have the capacity to express how bad a symptom may be or how much discomfort they may be facing.