Neonatal Conjunctivitis

Neonatal conjunctivitis appears in newborn babys due to a tear duct that is blocked, irritated, or infected. The symptoms of neonatal conjunctivitis are swollen and red eyelids, drainage from the eyes that is watery and/or bloody, and also thick discharge that is like puss. To treat neonatal conjunctivitis infants are given antibiotics by means of eye drops, ointments and oral medication. If the infection is severe enough the infant may be given antibiotics intravenously as well.

Often more than one type of antibiotic will be used to treat neonatal conjunctivitis. To remove discharge that has built up and possibly dried, saline solution is used to clean the infant’s eyes. If the neonatal conjunctivitis is the result of a blocked tear duct, then a warm and gentle massage of the area in the middle of the eyes can be used. If the neonatal conjunctivitis lingers for more than one year then surgery may be performed.

Any irritation the infant has to the eye drops used at the time of birth, which can cause neonatal conjunctivitis symptoms, will clear on its own. What course of treatment is taken will depend on the cause of the neonatal conjunctivitis. If it is caused by infection, the treatment will be more aggressive because this type of neonatal conjunctivitis may cause permanent vision damage if not treated properly and promptly.

There are many things that can cause infectious neonatal conjunctivitis in an infant. Bacteria is the most common culprit such as when the mother has an STD like gonorrhea or Chlamydia. These STDs are passed to the infant in the birth canal and can cause severe neonatal conjunctivitis. In addition, the virus that leads to oral and genital herpes can also lead to neonatal conjunctivitis and possible eye problems.

The virus is also contracted by the baby in the birth canal. Although, herpes is a less common cause than the other STDs mentioned. More uncommonly, but still possible, neonatal conjunctivitis can be caused by the bacteria that is naturally present in a woman’s vagina but has nothing to do with an STD. A woman may not even have symptoms of the above problems but still be carrying the virus or bacteria in her vagina when she gives birth, causing neonatal conjunctivitis.

If an infant has become infected with neonatal conjunctivitis the symptoms will usually appear within one day to two weeks. First the eyelids will become swollen, then red and sore. If not treated at this point, watery and puss like discharge will form. Most hospitals, by state law, automatically put antibiotic drops in each newborn infant’s eyes to stop possible neonatal conjunctivitis because it is very contagious.

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