Meningitis can affect you and your baby with equal ferocity. It can be termed as the inflammation of the meninges as well as the spinal cord and membranes of the brain. In fact, the bacteria which cause meningitis in babies has been consistent, comprising Group B Streptococcus (GBS), followed then by Escherichia Coli (E. Coli), Listeria Monocytogenes and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Causes Of Meningitis In Babies:
Babies which are infected during the first few years of life may also have features of septicaemia and pneumonia. However, meningitis usually occurs at a later stage. It is usually caused by the following:
- A virus or bacterium that travels through the bloodstream causing an infection.
- Meningitis can also be caused by a fungal infection; however, it is less common.
Types Of Meningitis:
Meningitis can affect babies below the age of 2 years old as well as older children. Listed are the two main types of meningitis:
- Meningitis that affects babies (around 2-3 months old) is called neonatal meningitis. It should be noted that the virus can be quite serious when it affects babies. If you do not heed the signs and warnings, it can cause deafness, intellectual disability, and even death in babies.
- Bacterial Meningitis mostly affects children above the age of 5 years. It is more common and is milder than meningitis caused by bacteria. It lasts for around 10 days.
Viruses Causing Meningitis:
There are a number of viruses which cause meningitis in baby which are usually from the group called enteroviruses. Some of the common viruses which cause meningitis in children include the following:
- Coxsackie, a virus that cause mouth and hand disease; it usually leads to meningitis in infants.
- Mumps can also cause meningitis.
- Herpes simplex viruses.
Effects Of Meningitis:
You should be careful because bacterial meningitis can cause the following:
- Difficulty in development
- Loss of speech
- Problems that affect the muscles
- Kidney failure as well as gland failure
How Do Babies Contract Meningitis?
While there is no confirmed explanation of how babies contract meningitis, here are some of the ways they can be exposed to it:
- The organisms which cause the sickness can be found in the throat and mouth of babies.
- Babies with immune systems that function abnormally.
- Sick-cell disease can also cause the sickness.
- Babies with head injuries are also prone to the virus.
- A pregnant mother can be infected with the virus which is then passed on to the child.
Symptoms Of Meningitis In Babies:
Signs may differ between two children suffering from meningitis. Also, they may disappear in no particular order. Here are some of the main meningitis symptoms in babies that you should look out for. They are:
- Stiff Neck
- Major headache
- Inability to deal with light or being exposed to it
- Heavy-headed feeling
- Inability to eat or drink as usual
- Rashes on the skin
- Constant crying
- Bulging Fontanel
If you feel that your child has some of the symptoms mentioned on the list, you should take him to the doctor immediately to avoid late diagnosis.
Diagnosis Of Meningitis:
This condition can only be diagnosed by a qualified doctor; only he will be able to tell how serious the meningitis actually is, before opting for a particular treatment. Here are some of the methods which doctors adopt to diagnose if your child has meningitis or not:
- The doctor may opt to conduct a lumbar puncture, which is also referred to as a spinal tap.
- In some cases, a doctor may order for a CT scan to be conducted before actually going through with the lumbar puncture. This is done to rule out other symptoms and offer a concrete solution.
- Urine and blood samples will also be taken before the actual lumbar puncture is conducted.
Treatment For Viral Meningitis:
In the case of viral meningitis, the immune system of your child should be stronger and able to withstand it without having to actually undergo intensive treatment. Sometimes, treatment is ruled out altogether. However, the virus is still tended to in the following ways:
1. Medication prescribed by the doctor after thoroughly examining the symptoms, especially in the case of a newborn. Medication would be required to lessen the fever.
2. Plenty of rest and relaxation is required in order for your baby to gain his full strength back.
3. Pamper him with whatever he requires to make sure that he is back to full health in no time.
4. Hospitalization may be required under doctor’s orders to observe certain irregularities in health.
Treatment For Bacterial Meningitis:
Children suffering from bacterial meningitis would require hospitalization and aftercare because of the severity of the virus. In order to completely eradicate the bacteria from the immune system, listed below are some of the treatments required:
1. Strong antibiotics will normally be administered to your child in order to purify the bloodstream infected with the bacteria.
2. Hospitalization is a must; your child will be connected to an intravenous drip to replenish lost fluid from his or her body.
Prevention Against Meningitis:
Ensuring that your child adopts a good hygiene regimen will help prevent the bacteria from entering the blood. Here are some ways to avoid meningitis:
- Ensure that your child washes his hands before and after every meal as well as when he returns from the playground. He should also wash his hands after going to the toilet.
- You will need to cover your mouth when coughing to prevent your baby from contracting the virus. Use a tissue or your arm in such cases. Teach your baby the same habits too.
- Make it a point to keep certain contaminated surfaces clean like remote control, toys as well as doorknobs. Use a disinfectant in these cases.
- You should avoid sharing beverages, toothbrushes, utensils and other personal items with your baby to prevent passing on the germs.
- Ensure to keep your house free from rodents that contaminate surfaces as well as food. Use rubber gloves when wiping the surface with disinfectant.
- Try and avoid getting bitten by insects and rodents that transmit certain deadly viruses.
Meningitis in babies can be as harmful if not taken care of properly. Therefore, taking a second opinion from a qualified doctor is always necessary.
We hope that the information shared will help you tackle the deadly meningitis virus or bacteria more effectively. Do share how you manage to prevent your child from contracting the disease.
What Should Be The Right Age To Take Your Baby For Swimming?
Swimming is not only an enjoyable fitness activity but is also a life-saving skill. Are you anxious to know when to start swimming lessons for baby? If yes, then our article is the best for you and your doubts.
At What Age Can Babies Start Swimming Lessons?
Well, mommies, by the time your darling turns six months old, he or she is capable of kicking and splashing water and will enjoy his or her stay in the pool. So, from 6 months of age, you and your baby can enjoy a fun time in the pool of your house!
- There is no need to worry about the chlorine in water, but make sure your baby is holding her head up before you take her to swim. This will keep her sturdier and firmer.
- Do not worry if you find her screaming in the initial days. If she loves bathing, there are chances that she will love to swim as well.
- You can consider taking trail classes before enrolling her for the regular classes. Give it some time for your baby to get used to the cold water.
Pay Attention To Water Safety:
Water safety is one of the biggest concerns that you need to keep in mind while taking your baby for swimming. You need to ensure your baby is not facing near drowning situations. Here is some water safety rules that you need to keep in mind :
- Keep a close watch on your baby. You must be around all the time. Hold on to her in the pool. Do not leave her unattended!
- Keep a track on the duration of swimming. It must not exceed 10 minutes. You can increase the time gradually and must her out of water when she starts shivering.
- If your baby is on her way to becoming a toddler and starts running, teach her not to run near the water bodies. Make her wear personal flotation device (PFD).
Keep Tears To The Minimum:
To ensure you keep her tears to the minimum, here are some strategies you need to keep in mind:
- Give her time to settle in the water. Hold her securely and make her feel safe.
- There is no need to rush, always start slow. Start with gentle motions. Swaying from side to side or bouncing up and down are some good options.
- Once your baby is comfortable, you can demonstrate the basic fun skills like splashing and bubbles.
- Praise her even in case of her smallest accomplishments.
- You can begin with flotation devices and make sure to not use them when you are teaching her to swim.
6 Important Tips To Remember:
When you are considering taking your baby to swimming classes, here are some important aspects that you must be aware of. Take a look:
1. There is no need to immunize your baby fully before taking her to swimming classes. In case you have any concerns, you can have a talk with your doctor about your pre-immunization concerns.
2. Body temperature of babies tends to vary. See to it that the water is not very cold. Again, the water must not be too hot, as that can too be very dangerous for her.
3. Your baby should be fed 30 minutes before getting into the pool. Even if it is liquid it must be fully digested.
4. In case you are feeding solids, give at least an hour for the food to get digested completely.
5. Due to rigorous exercises after swimming, she might feel hungry; offer her a big meal after the classes.
6. Foods should never be brought inside the pool facility, as it’s harmful to do so.
Hope by now you might have known when can you take babies swimming. When you start early, take advantage of the primitive strokes that comes naturally to your baby. When she is younger, her inbuilt gag reflex is the strongest. This means she can hold her breath without worrying about it when swimming.
Happy swimming with your baby!
Moms share with us when was the first time you took your baby for the swimming classes.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis In Infants – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a medical condition that is typically seen in premature infants. It occurs during the second and third week of development; what typically happens is the lining of the intestinal wall dies and falls off.
Why Is NEC Dangerous?
When the intestines are damaged, it may lead to the intestines to become swollen or even some severe cases develop a hole or a perforation.
- This situation results in it incapacity to hold waste; thus all bacteria and the waste move through the intestine and into the blood or even into abdominal cavit.
- This in turn can make the baby severely sick and at times the infection can be fatal.
Susceptible Age Groups:
Necrotizing enterocolitis affects infants who weigh less than 1500g, with a mortality rate of 50% or depending on the severity of the condition. Babies that are at a higher risk to develop NEC include:
- Babies who are preemies.
- Premature babies who are fed concentrated formulas.
- Babies can get it if they are exposed to an environment where an outbreak as happened.
- Babies who may have had blood transfusion.
What Causes Necrotizing Enterocolitis In Infants:
The main cause is unclear but some experts feel there are few factors that may play a part in it, they are:
- Less oxygen or reduced blood flow to the intestine makes it difficult to create a mucous lining needed for digestion.
- Underdeveloped intestines or a wound to the lining of the intestine.
- Large growth of bacteria in the intestines.
- Exclusively Formula fed babies.
NEC can also spread like an ‘epidemic’ affecting in babies in the same hospital wing or crèche. But it could also purely coincidental. And many hospitals take the utmost care to maintain such areas infection free.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis Symptoms:
Signs of NEC may look like those of other stomach illnesses and the severity varies from one baby to another baby. Initially symptoms can be very subtle and they can include one or more of the following:
- Abdominal tenderness or distention or both vomiting diarrhea and/or bloody, dark stools.
- Not feeding well.
- Food staying for longer periods in the stomach than usual less active.
- Apnea (interval stops in breathing).
Diagnosing Necrotizing Enterocolitis:
In more severe cases liquid or fluid in the abdominal cavity can show up on X-ray. Also a condition called peritonitis which is the infection of the membrane lining the abdomen can be seen. Some of the Initial tests conducted are:
- An X-ray is done to confirm the presence of any abnormal gas present in the intestines. It would look like a striped appearance of gas or a bubbly gas formation.
- A occult blood test or stool test.
- Presence of elevated white blood cell count in a CBC Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) Lactic acidosis.
- In few rare and severe cases the escaped gases can be seen in the veins of liver or abdominal cavity. A needle maybe inserted by the doctor into the abdominal cavity to withdraw the fluid and determine whether there is a perforation.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis Treatment:
All babies with this condition need to be given treatment with a combination of therapy and medication. Some of them may require surgery to repair the intestine.
After diagnosis, the treatment begins this include:
- All feelings will be stop temporarily.
- Process of nasogastric drainage is done.
- IV fluids for replacing lost fluid are given.
- The infection is treated by administering antibiotics.
- X-rays and frequents examinations of the stomach are conducted.
- Blood samples and stool samples are also taken to look for bacteria and to make sure baby hasn’t developed anemia.
- Baby’s belly will also be checked periodically to rule out swelling.
- If it is swollen that will interfere with breathing, hence a ventilator maybe used in such cases.
- Once the baby’s body responses to the treatment, the following steps are taken:
- Baby’s regular feedings may be back after a week. At times it may be suppressed a bit longer and antibiotics will be given for another week or two weeks.
- When feeding starts, breast feeding is recommended.
- Breast milk is favorable for a baby with NEC because this is easily absorbed by the intestines also boosts baby’s immunity which is especially important for a premature baby with an immature immune system.
- For those mothers who can’t breast feed or have less production of breast milk, doctors recommend them to giving pasteurized human breast milk from a milk bank, which can be considered a safe remedy.
Surgical Option For NEC Babies:
In rare cases, exploratory surgery is the only option for babies with an intestinal perforation. The procedure includes the following:
- The doctors examine the stomach cavity to look for the hole in the intestine or to remove any dead or dying tissue.
- Sometimes doctors may even conduct a second surgery to check and remove any diseased part of the intestine.
- Once this is completed healthy intestine can be sewn back together.
- In cases where the baby is very ill or large section of the intestine is removed, an osteomyelitis is done; in which surgeons bring an area of the intestine to an opening on the stoma so that the stool can safely exit the body.
Do Babies With NEC Fully Recover?
Most babies suffering from NEC do fully recover and do not face future feeding problems. If in cases where the bowel is bruised or narrowed or intestinal blockage happens, then more surgery is required.
- Malabsorption can be a persistent problem, especially for babies whose part of the intestine is removed. For such infants, nutrients are given intravenous till the intestine heals enough to tolerate normal feedings.
- You may be very worried when you may not be allowed to feed your baby. But this is the best for your baby and with the right treatment she will be back to regular feedings.
Best way to handle this issue is to be strong, believe in your doctor and find new ways to be close with your baby. People are always ready to support and help the parents of premature babies, as well as the babies themselves towards a steady path of recovery.
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