Conjunctivitis is referred as inflammation of conjunctiva which is the thin tissue covering the white part of the eye and inside portion of eyelids. When conjunctivitis occurs in infants within first 28 days of life, it is called neonatal conjunctivitis.
Neonatal conjunctivitis is usually caused by the bacteria like Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumonia. During vaginal delivery, gonococcal or chlamydial infections are transmitted from mother to the child and infect the eyes.
Causes of neonatal conjunctivitis:
- lack of hygiene in hospital
- lack of awareness among mothers and guardians
- childbirth in household settings under non-aseptic conditions
- Chemical irritants can also cause conjunctivitis
Symptoms of Neonatal conjunctivitis:
The common symptoms of neonatal conjunctivitis are:
- discharge from the eye
- redness of the eye
- swelling of the eyelid
- Sometimes fever might be present in some babies
- Traces of blood can be observed along with watery discharge if the infection is viral.
Diagnosis of Neonatal Conjunctivitis:
An eye exam is performed for the detection of neonatal conjunctivitis. If the eye does not look normal the following tests should be performed:
- Culture of the watery discharge from the eye to look for bacteria or viruses
- Slit-lamp exam to look for damage to the surface of the eyeball
Management of Neonatal Conjunctivitis:
Gentle warm massage between the eye and nasal area is done to relieve a blocked tear duct. This is done before the start of antibiotics. Antibiotics in the form of eye drops or ointment are prescribed for a week or until the culture report is clear. Saline eye drops are found to be beneficial for the removal of sticky yellow drainage.
Tips to prevent Neonatal Conjunctivitis:
Following tips can help to prevent neonatal conjunctivitis:
- Pregnant women with sexual diseases like chlamydia or gonococcal infections must be treated to minimize the risk of spreading disease during vaginal delivery
- Use of eye drops into all infants’ eyes in the delivery room immediately after birth helps to prevent various infections
- Pregnant women with active herpes sores at the time of delivery should undergo C-section to prevent serious illness in the baby
- It is important to get yourself treated for genital infection before or during pregnancy. Avoid getting pregnant if you or your partner has an uncured sexually transmitted disease
- Maintain hygiene surrounding your baby to prevent bacterial conjunctivitis
Remember to apply eye drops prescribed to your child by the doctor