Sepsis remains one of the most common diseases of the neonatal period and is still a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. As much as 40% of under-five deaths globally occur in the neonatal period, resulting in 3 million new-born deaths each year. The vast majority of these deaths usually occur in low-income countries, and about 1 million of these deaths are attributed to infectious causes, including neonatal sepsis.

It contributes up to 13%–15% of all deaths during the neonatal period, particularly in developing countries where sepsis contributes as much as half of neonatal deaths. Sepsis can be triggered by almost any infection and is responsible for an estimated 8 million annual deaths worldwide.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection. The body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection. It occurs when the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance, triggering changes that can damage multiple organ systems.

Sepsis during the neonatal period can lead to various complications. The short-term complications include:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cardiac failure, shock
  • Renal failure, Liver dysfunction,
  • Cerebral edema.

Some long-term complications include:

  • Developmental delays
  • Sensory and neurological dysfunction.

It can happen to anyone and most common/dangerous in:

  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than 1
  • People who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, kidney or lung disease, or cancer
  • People who have weakened immune systems

Symptoms of Sepsis

  • Change in mental status
  • Respiratory rate higher than or equal to 22 breaths a minute

Sepsis can progress to septic shock when certain changes in the circulatory system, the body’s cells and how the body uses energy become more abnormal. Septic shock is more likely to cause death than sepsis is. To be diagnosed with septic shock, you must have a probable or confirmed infection and both of the following:

  • The need for medication to maintain blood pressure greater than or equal to 65 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
  • High levels of lactic acid in your blood (serum lactate) after you have received adequate fluid replacement. Having too much lactic acid in your blood means that your cells are not using oxygen properly.
  • Confusion or decreased alertness
  • If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically. This may lead to death.

Join HEI in the Nip Sepsis in the Bud campaign, use the USSD code: *402*82289909*AMOUNT# or click here to join the campaign.

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