11 Common Neonatal Infections New Moms Should Know


Newborn babies are at an increased risk of getting sick. They are delicate and prone to catching infections. These infections can even become deadly. That is why it is very important for new moms to be aware of them. Some of the neonatal infections that can affect your baby are Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS), Listeriosis, Meningitis, E Coli, Conjunctivitis, Sepsis, Candidiasis, Influenza, Herpes, Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus, and Syphilis.

Read More: 11 Early Signs of Neonatal Sepsis

11 Common Neonatal Infections

Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS)

This is a common bacterium that can cause different types of infections in your little one. Your baby is likely to get this bacteria from you during birth. These bacteria can be present in your vagina or rectum. If left untreated, it can be easily passed onto your baby at the time of birth.

Symptoms of GBS:

  • Breathing problems
  • Problems in feeding
  • Listlessness
  • High temperature
  • Unusually cranky behavior

These symptoms usually become visible within the first week of birth. However, some may also develop few weeks or even months later.


This infection can lead to severe cases such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. It is caused by bacteria known as Listeria monocytogenes. Your baby can get listeriosis if he or she is given food that hasn’t been cleaned properly. Food that hasn’t been properly cooked or pasteurized can also lead to this infection.


If you had contracted this infection during pregnancy, chances are that your baby may also be infected.

Read More: Listeriosis During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Risk, Treatment, and Prevention

Symptoms of Listeriosis:

  • Breathing problems
  • Problems in feeding
  • Listlessness
  • High temperature
  • Unusually cranky behavior

In severe cases, this infection can lead to premature delivery and even stillbirth.

Neonatal Infections


This infection is caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. It causes the inflammation of the membranes surrounding your baby’s spinal cord and brain. If your baby has a weak immune system, he or she can catch this infection from the germs present in the surroundings. These can be caught during birth or in the neonatal phase.


Symptoms of Meningitis:

There are no such defined symptoms of this infection. But can include:

  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Refusing to feed (both breastfeeding and bottle feeding)
  • Low or unstable body temperature
  • Breathing problems
  • Jaundice
  • Pallor of skin
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rashes

As the disease starts to progress, you can notice that your baby’s soft spot may start to bulge out.

E Coli Infection

This infection is caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria. It can cause urinary tract infection in your baby. It can also lead to pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. E coli bacteria is present in all human bodies. Your baby can encounterit during birth in the birthing canal. He or she may also be infected after birth by coming in contact with it in the home or at the hospital.

Symptoms of E Coli:

  • Unusual fussiness
  • Fever
  • Disinterest in feeding
  • Listlessness

These symptoms may vary depending on the severity and kind of infection that your baby may have.



This is the inflammation of the eye of your newborn. The membrane covering your little one’s eyes becomes inflamed. This happens due to both viral and bacterial infection. It is also known as pink eye. It is very infectious and can spread to other babies in the home or at the hospital.

Read More: 9 Home Remedies for Conjunctivitis in Children

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis:

  • Redness of the eyes
  • Swelling in the eyes
  • Discharge

Your child can get this infection due to the germs present in its surroundings. Usually this infection can be easily treated at home with the help of antibiotics and eye drops. However, in severe cases, your baby may even need to be hospitalized.


This is a very serious type of infection that can happen to your baby. It leads to the spread of germs throughout your little one’s tissues and blood. It can be caused due to a number of factors. These include parasites, fungi, viruses and bacteria present in the atmosphere.

Read More: 11 Early Signs of Neonatal Sepsis


Symptoms of Sepsis:

These are similar to those seen in meningitis. They can differ in each baby, and depends on the severity of the infection. Some signs to look for are:

  • Jaundice
  • Breathing problems
  • Low heart rate
  • Disinterest in feeding
  • Unstable or low body temperature
  • Unusual fussiness
  • Lethargy

In case you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Sepsis needs to be treated with antibiotics in a hospital.


Candida is a common yeast found on every person’s body. However, an overgrowth of this yeast causes a fungal infection. This infection is called Candidiasis. Most often, newborns pick up this infection from the mother’s vagina during delivery. They can also pick it up during breastfeeding.

Candidiasis most often shows itself in the form of diaper rash. It can also occur in the form of oral thrush.

Symptoms of Candidiasis:

  • White patches (like a thin layer of milk) on the tongue
  • White patches in the lips, palate and insides of the baby’s cheeks
  • Cracks in the corner of your baby’s mouth
  • Small red and slightly raised bumps on the skin

Candidiasis can be treated easily with the help of antifungal medications. In case of a diaper rash, keeping your baby’s buttocks clean and dry usually does the trick.


Influenza, also known simply as flu, is a viral infection. It can affect your baby’s throat, nose and lungs. It is caused by the influenza viruses. Your baby can be most vulnerable to flu in the “Flue Season”. This lasts approximately between October to May.

Read More: Flu Vaccination For Kids:Ultimate Guide

Symptoms of Flu:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever (However, in some cases there may not be any fever)
  • Chills and shaking of the body
  • Dry and hacking cough
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose or stuffy nose
  • Lethargy due to fatigue
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Your child will usually be irritable and cry when touched. In case you notice the symptoms getting worse, contact your doctor immediately. Children under the age of two years are at a serious risk of getting complications when they get flu.

Neonatal Herpes

Neonatal herpes is an infection that can affect your newborn baby. It is caused by a highly contagious virus called herpes simplex. It is a very serious infection in a newborn because your baby’s immune system is not fully developed. There are many ways your baby can get neonatal herpes.


You can pass the virus to your baby at the time of a vaginal birth, if you had genital herpes within the last six weeks of your pregnancy. Your baby can also get herpes if he or she is kissed by someone with a cold sore.

Symptoms of neonatal herpes:

  • Listlessness
  • Lethargy and sleepiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • High temperature
  • Stopping to feed
  • High-pitched and shrill cry
  • Floppiness
  • Breathing problems
  • Blue tongue and skin
  • Rashes

Neonatal herpes can be treated with intravenousantiviral medications. The treatment is usually needed for several weeks. In most cases, your baby can make a full recovery with the help of proper treatment.

German Measles

It is also called Rubella. This infection is caused by the rubella virus and affects your baby’s lymph nodes and skin. It is usually considered to be a mild infection in children. However, one needs to be very careful with infants, as their immunity is not fully developed.

Symptoms of German Measles:

  • Mild fever for one or two days
  • Tenderness and swelling behind the ears or back of the neck
  • Rashes (These begin from the face and then spreads downwards)

The rashes are the most obvious sign of this infection. These rashes can be itchy and cause discomfort to your baby. Usually the rashes begin to fade after three days. In case you notice them becoming worse, contact your healthcare provider immediately.



Syphilis can be passed from a mother to her baby at the time of pregnancy. It can lead to serious complications. It is highly contagious and is caused by a bacterium. The infection is called congenital syphilis when it affects a newborn. It can often be life-threatening in infants.

Symptoms of syphilis:

  • Copper colored rashes on the soles and palms
  • Irritability
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Fever
  • Saddlenose (Lack of the bridge of the nose)
  • Rash in the genitals, anus and mouth
  • Watery fluid from the nose

Syphilis in newborns can be easily treated with penicillin. Usually babies that become infected with this bacteria in the birthing canal can be successfully treated. However, it can also result in some severe health problems such as deafness, blindness, problems in the nervous system, and deformed face.


The first few weeks of your baby’s life are very crucial. Their immune system is not fully developed, making them prone to various infections. They can also catch the infections from you during the time of birth. That is why it is very important to get yourself tested thoroughly before and during pregnancy and receive proper treatment.

In case you feel concerned about your baby’s health or notice any unusual symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Timely treatment is the key to a successful recovery. If left untreated, even minor infections can lead to serious complications, and even the death of your baby.