Meningitis Symptoms in Babies and Young Children

Even with new technology and immunizations, meningitis is on the rise. Just in the UK alone there is an estimated 1,870 cases if meningitis B each year. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) between the years of 2003-2007, 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis occurred, and of those cases 500 individuals died. Meningitis affects not only adults and children, but babies as well. Yes, this deathly infection is affecting babies across the world, and with similar symptoms as the flu, it can often be mistaken for another illness and unfortunately go untreated.


Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the three membranes that line the skull and vertebral canal that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be either a viral or bacterial infection. While both can be very serious, bacterial meningitis is categorized as the deathly and can be very hard to treat. The most common strain of bacteria that causes meningitis in infants and young children in the U.S. is called Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus. This strain is what normally causes ear infections and pneumonia. A few other strains that can such as Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus inflenzae, and Listeria monocytogenes have been known to be linked to meningitis as well.

When children are diagnosed with meningitis they often have the following symptoms: high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting, confusion, sleepiness, rash, and sensitivity to light. While these signs are easy to mistake for the flu, it can be easier to diagnose when your child can verbally discuss their symptoms with you. With a baby, you may have a harder time figuring out what is wrong, especially since meningitis symptoms for a baby can be a little different. Meningitis indicators for an infant include fever, crying, sleepiness, loss of appetite, stiffness in the neck, and maybe no signs at all. Some symptoms to look out for are cold hands and feet, vomiting, the dislike of being handled, unresponsive and drowsy, pale and blotchy skin, bulging of the soft spot, and convulsions.

Meningitis symptoms can occur in any order and might seem like they came out of nowhere. It’s important to know how to protect your baby from this infection and where to go if you need help. Today it’s important to get your child vaccinated to protect them from dangerous diseases and infections like meningitis. For babies and teens there is the meningococcal vaccine. This vaccine is given in a series of shots and can be offered at any time during a child’s life, but it is recommended to be given as soon as possible, especially to those high at risk for meningitis. Teens should be vaccinated between the ages of 13-18.


There are very serious risk factors for those who are diagnosed with meningitis and go untreated. While viral meningitis can be treated, bacterial meningitis is serious and can lead to death. It’s important to discuss meningitis symptoms with your doctor so you are aware if your baby begins to show similar signs.



Celebrating National Nurses Week

Celebrating National Nurses WeekMay 6th, 2014 is the beginning of National Nurses Week, an important week-long celebration that reminds us of the hard work nurses across the country do to keep us healthy and safe. For new moms in particular, nurses play a critical role during delivery and in the NICU center. From helping preemies grow steadily to holding a mom’s hand during labor until her husband arrives as the hospital, nurses provide essential care we wouldn’t want to go without. So we’re sending a big thank you to nurses across the country and the globe!

It’s hard not to tear up reading this emotional blog post, “Dear NICU Nurse,” from A Hand to Hold on the Preemie 101’s website. One mother shares her NICU journey and deep appreciation for the neonatal nurses that work as a team to care for her baby. In light of this week’s celebration, we’re including a link to the post here. If you have a friend or a loved one who works as a neonatal nurse, be sure to thank them this week for their hard work caring for some of the tiniest patients in the hospital.

National Nurses Week is also a great time to start the breastfeeding conversation with any nurses you might know or work with. Even though breastfeeding rates are up across the country, only 49 percent of moms in the United States are breastfeeding exclusively after 6 months. Gently share your concerns and wishes with your lactation consultant if you’re currently in a breastfeeding class and have a game plan about what common hurdles you might face nursing the first week after delivery. Being educated about common breastfeeding concerns will help you feel confident about your decision to nurse in the hospital even if you face difficulty at first. Make sure that you have open communication with your nurses and doctor about your breastfeeding needs; with encouraged conversation, we hope to see nurses continue to positively impact our US breastfeeding rates!

Happy National Nurses Week!

Breastfeeding Report Card Update and New Mom Nursing Concerns

Breastfeeding Report Card Update and New Mom Nursing ConcernsAccording to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 37.7% of new moms are exclusively breastfeeding 3 months after giving birth. At 6 months after birth, the percentage drops to 16.4. What drives so many first time mothers to supplement with formula or abandon breastfeeding altogether? Even though the CDC’s 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card shows marked improvement in on-site hospital support systems, women are continuing to not breastfeeding for a full year.

A September 2013 Time article notes that women who worry about their breastfeeding abilities (including issues like proper latch and sufficient breast milk production) before their baby is born are more likely to switch to formula sooner than women who did not express similar concerns. Even though lactation and breastfeeding are often touted as “natural” actions a mother instinctively knows, there are facets about latching and breastfeeding that so often a new mom is not taught while in the hospital. Small, correctible issues might seem like larger deficiencies when a new mom is struggling with feeding her baby. If a new mom’s anxieties are not addressed by a medical professional (especially if there is no lactation consultant available) it is unsurprising that she would feel as though breastfeeding were a task too difficult to handle.

What can you do to help a new mom struggling to nurse? Volunteer your own experiences and any breastfeeding information that you picked up along the way. Anxiety grows in the absence of information, so by sharing your take on breastfeeding, you are helping to foster another mom’s confidence. Sore nipples, frequent feedings—these elements of the breastfeeding routine are draining on a first-time mom, so any advice and encouragement will go a long way in boosting her confidence!

Do you have any important breastfeeding advice you’d like to share? Leave us a note in the comments!