Gonococcal infections in neonates and young children

Semin Pediatr Infect Dis. 2005 Oct;16(4):258-70. doi: 10.1053/j.spid.2005.06.006.


Gonorrhea has been recognized since antiquity, and more than 60 million new cases occur yearly worldwide. Much has been learned about the molecular pathogenesis of infection by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, but immunity from natural infection does not protect against reinfection with the same strain, and the goal of a protective vaccine remains elusive. Gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum is the most common manifestation in infants born to mothers with gonococcal genital tract infections. Genital and pharyngeal gonococcal infections in young children almost always are acquired from sexual abuse by an infected adult. Invasive disease can occur at any age but is uncommon. Nonculture diagnostic tests are widely used in adults, but culture is required in children for medicolegal purposes. N. gonorrhoeae strains have developed resistance to many antibiotic classes, and resistance profiles vary among geographic regions and within regions over time. Current guidelines for treatment of gonococcal infections in children in the United States are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea* / drug therapy
  • Gonorrhea* / epidemiology
  • Gonorrhea* / microbiology
  • Gonorrhea* / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Male
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / growth & development*
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / drug therapy
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / epidemiology
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / microbiology*
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / transmission
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents