What Is Neonatal Pneumonia And What Causes It?

Neonatal pneumonia refers to the infection of the lungs in an infant. Onset may be a part of a syndrome called generalized sepsis syndrome. It can occur after a few hours or 7 days of birth. It is restricted to neonate’s lungs only.

Neonatal can only have the symptoms of respiratory distress or sometimes these symptoms can progress to a sudden death or shock. Clinical diagnosis can be made for this condition. Laboratory evaluation is necessary for the sepsis.

After the condition of primary sepsis, pneumonia is considered as the most invasive bacterial infection. Early Onset pneumonia may be associated with generalized sepsis. It manifests within hours after your birth. After seven days, your child may have late-onset pneumonia.

The infants who need prolonged endotracheal intubation may suffer from this condition in neonatal intensive care units. Your baby may need such treatment due to lung disease termed as ventilator-associated pneumonia.


Group B hemolytic streptococcal infection is the main cause of neonatal pneumonia. Your baby may get this infection in the birth canal. Pseudomonas are the other etiologic against neonatal pneumonia. 

Klebsiella, Enterobacter and Staphylococcus are also involved in causing these diseases. Neonatal pneumonia affects one child in 200.

Onset Timing

Early Onset Pneumonia

Your infant may get it within 48 hours after the birth. Upto si days, babies are vulnerable to get this infection.

Late Onset Pneumonia

If the symptoms of pneumonia start appearing after seven days of birth, your baby may have late onset pneumonia.

Organisms come from the nursery and maternal ngenital tract. These organisms are gram-negative bacilli and gram positive cocci. Doctors may detect several other pathogens in the infants who get broad-spectrum antibiotics.

These pathogens may be Citrobacter, Pseudomonas and Serratia. The causes of neonatal pneumonia can be bacteria or viruses in some cases.


The respiratory symptoms of patients can become worse in the late-onset pneumonia. In this condition, patients need hospitalization. The quality of respiratory secretions become altered and increase like it becomes brown and thick.

Infants can become ill severely with neutropenia and unstable temperature. Take care of your babies and keep checking them for noticing the symptoms of pneumonia after the brith. Do not treat the severe symptoms at home.

Contact the doctor immediately if your baby is getting worse symptoms. Leaving this condition untreated or not taking medical care can make your baby ill and vulnerable for developing complications. It can be life-threatening for an infant too.


Doctors can use chest x-rays to examine the condition of your baby. They may use blood cultures, culture of tracheal aspirate, Gram stain and pulse oximetry. 

The persistent infiltrates that are new should be visible in the x-ray of the chest. But it can become challenging to identify if an infant has severe symptoms of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. 

If tracheal aspirate Gram stains report the presence of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and any organisms that are consistent with other growing organisms that grow from tracheal aspirate culture, there are chances that this is the cause of certain type of pneumonia your infant may have.

Bacterial pneumonia in children can spread, that is the reason doctors should make a complete evaluation for sepsis. Blood cultures reported positive in 2 to 5% cases in the infants who are hospitalized.


Doctors may use antimicrobial therapy for the infants who have early-onset disease. They can recommend certain drugs to your child to fight pneumonia such as vancomycin, and meropenem that is a broad-spectrum beta-lactam drug.

Your child may get a cefepime drug too for neonatal pneumonia. These medicines are recommended for initial treatment for the hospitalized infants who are suffering from late-onset pneumonia. Medication helps to treat sepsis and pneumonia that involves typical pathogens.

Neonatal pneumonia is a serious issue in developing countries too. The survival of preterm births has been increased. One reason for neonatal pneumonia could be the preterm births. Premature babies are vulnerable for early and late infections caused by bacteria.

You will find a clinical spectrum of pneumonia complications. It’s symptoms are not specific. Laboratories make a quick and rapid diagnosis for this condition. If the bacterial pneumonia is multi-drug resistant, it can be difficult to treat it.

Doctors do not favor a specific treatment that’s why the decision for antibiotic treatment is associated with the local antimicrobial resistance patterns. In certain cases, surfactant substitution proves beneficial. 

Vaccination programs help to control this disease.Some preventive strategies may also help to control this condition in your child. Perinatal care should be made properly in order to avoid further complications of the disease. 

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