Early-onset neonatal bacterial infection (infection with onset within 72 hours of birth) is a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in newborn babies. Parent organisations and the scientific literature report that there can be unnecessary delays in recognising and treating sick babies. In addition, concern about the possibility of early-onset neonatal infection is common. This concern is an important influence on the care given to pregnant women and newborn babies. There is wide variation in how the risk of early-onset neonatal infection is managed in healthy babies.
This guideline covers preventing infection within 72 hours of birth in healthy babies, treating pregnant women whose baby is at risk, and caring for babies who have a suspected or confirmed infection. It aims to reduce delays in recognising and treating sick babies and prevent unnecessary use of antibiotics.