Neonatal bacterial meningitis is uncommon but devastating. Morbidity among survivors remains high. The types and distribution of pathogens are related to gestational age, postnatal age, and geographic region. Confirming the diagnosis is difficult. Clinical signs are often subtle, lumbar punctures are frequently deferred, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cultures can be compromised by prior antibiotic exposure. Infants with bacterial meningitis can have negative blood cultures and normal CSF parameters. Promising tests such as the polymerase chain reaction require further study. Prompt treatment with antibiotics is essential. Clinical trials investigating a vaccine for preventing neonatal Group B Streptococcus infections are ongoing.
Keywords: Antibiotics; Cerebrospinal fluid; Lumbar puncture; Neonatal bacterial meningitis; Vaccine; Very low birth weight.
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