Parents always want to safeguard their apple of an eye from everything. Sometimes we have to face diseases which we never even knew if they exists. And it is most devastating when a mother came to know something serious about her newborn baby. There have been cases, where the newborns are found to have really bad diseases whose treatment is also difficult with no guarantee of complete recovery. Meningitis is one of them. I am pouring my heart out . I came around with a family friend (new mom) who has face this problem and I do not want anyone to face the same problem.
Meningitis is a disease that not everybody knows about commonly. But it should be known to all parents that a newborn can get sick with the disease at just 2 months of age. The complications can be reduced, but it can also be fatal or make the child suffer for whole life. Even the cure is not specifically known to the experts. It is so tough for mothers to deal with such situations.
Generally the newborns are given vaccines like those preventing diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenza type b, hepatitis B, polio and pneumococcal disease. Talking of the last one, pneumococcal disease can be the reason behind meningitis, which refers to an infection in the brain and spinal cord coverings. But against the normal perception, it is important to note that vaccination against this disease is not enough for the complete protection of the child.
Meningitis is a highly unpredictable and a potentially devastating disease. It can be due to virus or bacteria. The latter one is more dangerous and can be fatal too. Even if the child is freed from the chances of death, he or she may have to suffer from problems like difficulty in hearing, learning disabilities and even paralysis.
Symptoms of Meningitis on children
- Bulging fontanel,
- Cold hands and feet,
- Stiff neck
- Rapid breathing, refusing to feed,
- Upset stomach or Persistent vomiting
- Extreme sleepiness,
- Irritation and crying especially when tried to be picked up and red or dark rashes on body.
- It’s not an easy task for mothers to understand the real meaning of these symptoms.
For prevention against the disease, children should be vaccinated with the Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, also called MCV4. This one is given to children above 11 years of age. MMR vaccine is given to children of 12 to 15 months of age and then again at 4 through 6 years of age. It protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The age difference shows that the former vaccine is also a must.
Meningitis in India
As per the data of years 2016 and 2017, there have been 3251 cases of meningitis in the country in 2016 out of which 205 died. In 2017, 3087 cases have been reported leading to 146 deaths. The data also shows that males have been more affected by the disease than females in both years. West Bengal saw the maximum number of patients in the country followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Karnataka. This shows the severity of the disease in the country and the need to take all precautions.
Protection Against the Disease
Meningitis is uncommon but dangerous infection. Babies less than 2 months of age are more prone to the disease. Treatment is extremely necessary to prevent death and future consequences. Following are some of the ways of protecting the newborns from meningitis:
- Keeping babies away from people with any infection and cold sores. The disease can be transmitted and lead to severe circumstances for the child.
- Keeping them away from large crowds whenever possible and from mosquitoes.
- Preparing food or bottles for the baby and touching the baby only with clean hands.
- Pregnant women between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy should be given a group B strep test and should be treated with antibiotics in case of testing positive.
Consulting a doctor from time to time is a must. Parents should give baby prompt medical help; and even after that they should be very careful to get the baby fully recovered.
This information can be the first level of guidance about the disease. One can then consult a doctor for further information and guidance. People should be aware of the disease, especially those who live in the parts where there have been many cases of meningitis.