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Welcome, medical contents search April 30, 2013
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more about Omphalitis

  • In this condition, bacterial infection occurs in the umbilical cord of the newborn.  The umbilical cord starts out as a sterile piece of tissue.  The infection is acquired either during the birth process, or after birth.

  • Redness, swelling, tenderness at the base of the umbilical stump where it meets the baby's abdominal wall
  • Often, there is a ring of redness on the abdominal wall, surrounding the umbilical cord.
  • Foul-smelling umbilical cord
  • Pus on the umbilical cord
  • Symptoms usually start 2-3 days after birth.

  • The usual cause is the direct passage of bacteria from the hands of a person handling the baby, to the umbilical cord.
  • In the United States, the bacteria causing the infection are almost always one of these 4 species of bacteria:
    1. Staphylococcus aureus
    2. E. coli
    3. Streptococcus Group B
    4. Streptococcus pyogenes

  • The presence of some or all of the symptoms listed above makes a physician decide that the baby likely has omphalitis.
  • Many physicians use a measurement of a certain number of centimeters of surrounding redness as the decisive factor in diagnosing omphalitis.

  • Infected amniotic fluid
  • The initial bath in the newborn nursery using an antibacterial soap markedly reduces the risk of omphalitis.  If the initial bath in the newborn nursery is not done, there is a risk for omphalitis.

  • Antibiotic treatment is given, usually intramuscularly or intravenously, until the infection is completely resolved.

  • The infection can spread along the abdominal wall, or it can invade the abdominal organs.
  • Peritonitis can occur (infection of the lining surrounding the abdominal organs).
  • Septicemia can occur (bacterial infection in the bloodstream).
  • Blood clots in the abdomen

  • Since early discharge of newborn babies means that babies are often sent home 24 hours after birth, the baby may not be in the hospital when omphalitis occurs.
  • Promptly report any redness, swelling, or tenderness of the umbilical area, to the baby's physician.
  • Promptly report any foul smell of the umbilical area, or the appearance of any pus, to the baby's physician.

  • The normal umbilical cord may ooze a little bit of fluid at the point where the cord meets the baby's abdominal wall, and this fluid may smell a little bit.  However, the normal umbilical cord does not have any surrounding redness where it meets the abdominal wall.
  • When the umbilical cord falls off, it may leave pink stump behind.  This stump may bleed a little bit, which is normal.  However, the stump does not have any surrounding redness where it meets the abdominal wall.

more about Omphalitis

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