Most illnesses in newborns are caused by viral infections, which may typically be treated at home. On the other hand, bacterial infections are rare causes of meningitis but may be very dangerous and even deadly.

In the first month, they cause mortality in up to 40% of patients. An infant with bacterial meningitis must be treated aggressively in the hospital with intravenous antibiotics. Seizures and visual problems are common long-term side effects, even in people who have recovered. Keep reading to discover more about the prognosis, causes, symptoms, long-term implications, diagnosis, and treatment of meningitis in neonates.

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The sudden onset of meningitis symptoms is a warning sign. When your baby is being carried, it's possible that it may be difficult to soothe. The baby's other symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Abrupt elevation of temperature (fever)
  • Excessive sleepiness or difficulty rousing (low energy)
  • Bulging of the fontanel on the skull
  • Poor feeding
  • Vomiting.
  • Neck stiffness
  • Severe headaches
  • Intolerance of strong light

A newborn may experience a seizure from time to time. High fever may be at blame, rather than meningitis itself.

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What Causes Meningitis?

According to a research report released in 2021, babies are more vulnerable to illnesses due to a variety of factors. For example, their immune system and the blood-brain barrier are not completely matured in these infants and toddlers.

The immune system's job is to keep the brain safe from infection, and the blood-brain barrier plays an important role in that effort. Infants aren't even given their first round of vaccinations until two months old. These people have a greater chance of having a blood infection that may lead to meningitis during this period.

When a viral infection brings on meningitis, it is less dangerous than when a bacterial infection causes it. Meningitis caused by bacterial infection is frequently life-threatening.

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If a parasite or fungus is present, it may induce meningitis in newborns with weakened immune systems. Early onset meningitis is most often transmitted after childbirth, according to research published in the journal Pediatrics in 2014.

Pathogens, which are germs that may cause illness, can be found in the birth canal. While in the hospital, patients are exposed to germs that might cause meningitis later in life. Transmission may be caused by:

  • Contact with germs transmitted by medical equipment, such as a feeding tube, ventilator, or catheter
  • Meningitis-infected newborns may spread their diseases to uninfected infants because medical workers have inadequate hand cleanliness.


Doctors make diagnoses based on a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Meningitis may be diagnosed using swabs from of the throat, nose, and rectum.
  • A spinal tap, or lumbar puncture, is another word for this procedure. Meningitis can only be diagnosed with this test. A little volume of spinal fluid is withdrawn from the lower back to check for microorganisms.
  • Imaging studies such as an MRI or CT scan may give extra information without diagnosing meningitis. Meningitis may be diagnosed via an MRI or CT scan, which can identify inflammation in the meninges and other illnesses that might produce similar symptoms.
  • Meningitis-causing pathogens may be grown and identified using blood cultures.


Doctors treat meningitis aggressively because it advances quickly. A baby at any stage of illness needs immediate medical attention as soon as the first signs arise. Bacterial meningitis treatment necessitates inpatient care. It may take 14 to 21 days for an infected child to get intravenous antibiotics, depending on what bacteria is causing their illness.

Most newborns with viral meningitis do not need to be admitted to the hospital. Within a week to ten days, they may return to their normal routines at home. The lack of efficacy of antibiotics in combating viral infections means that doctors do not prescribe them.

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Instead, doctors recommend rest and hydrating themselves. Viral meningitis caused by a herpes simplex infection is an exception that requires intravenous antiviral drug therapy.

Cognitive therapy, physical therapy, medicine, and social support are all options for treatment if a kid develops neurological issues. Therapies and specialized consultations, such as those with a neurologist, may be coordinated by the child's main doctor.


Q. Is it possible to avoid getting meningitis?

A. For infants, there is nothing much that parents can do except for timely vaccinations and taking care of their nutrients and sleep routine. And making sure that the mother is adequately hydrated to ensure the baby is also hydrated.

Q. Is infant meningitis contagious?

A. Yes, meningitis is contagious even if it is in infants.

Q. What key signs should parents look for to identify meningitis?

A. You should take your kid to the doctor right away if they exhibit any of the symptoms described above and have a fever since meningitis may be quite dangerous in youngsters.


Meningitis in neonates may occur due to a number of factors, including the fact that babies are more sensitive to infections. Immune and blood-brain barrier development hasn't occurred yet, and they haven't been vaccinated against diseases.

Symptoms may include a high temperature, restlessness, pinprick skin eruptions, and a swollen, tender area on the scalp. A caregiver should seek medical help for a newborn as soon as a rash appears since bacterial meningitis is life-threatening.

Preventative care and early detection of disease are critical. A lumbar tap, in which a tiny volume of spinal fluid is removed and tested for microorganisms, may be used to identify the illness. Antibiotic medication must be administered intravenously for 14 to 21 days, depending on which bacteria are responsible for the illness.

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