New Research Shows Difficulty Of Spotting Birth Infections

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Researchers are recommending that doctors use multiple tests to determine whether newborns are affected by birth infections. The study looked at 44 premature infants with low birth weights. Most of these infants received diagnoses of early onset sepsis – life-threatening bacterial blood infections.

Sepsis can result from many different types or strains of bacteria. As a result, it can be difficult for doctors to spot an infection in time to save the infant’s life. All doctors should be aware of these difficulties and respond by using several blood tests as recommended.

The researchers found that the most commonly used tests missed more than 20 separate types of bacteria. The implication is that it is not enough to simply test amniotic fluid or umbilical cord blood for indications of sepsis – hospitals also need to perform more sophisticated tests like DNA analysis to look for harder to spot bacteria.

Some common birth infections include:

· Listeria

· Toxoplasmosis

· Group B streptococcus

Although infants can easily survive a birth infection with a basic course of antibiotic treatment, this depends upon a timely diagnosis. If doctors do not take the right steps to identify dangerous symptoms (including sleep apnea and high body temperatures), it may be too late to intervene.

If a birth infection harms a mother or a newborn, an experienced birth injury lawyer can help explore legal options.

Source:, “Multiple Tests Needed to Spot Infections in Newborns: Study,” Feb. 20 2013


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