Neonatal Sepsis and the Utilization of Oral Colostrum Care to Help Reduce Risks of Sepsis
Fundamentally, research indicates that neonatal sepsis is one of the world’s major health problems. Neonatal sepsis is described as a form of neonatal infections that affects the newborn babies otherwise referred to as bacterial bloodstream infection (BSI). These infections include pneumonia, meningitis, gastroenteritis, and pyelonephritis among others such as fever. Similarly, further research indicates that neonatal sepsis is also among the major diseases that contribute to higher statistics of neonatal mortalities thus posing a significant health problem to the public (Shane et al., 2017). In the same breath, it is worth noting that may occur earlier or later in a minor, that is early onset sepsis (EOS) and the later onset sepsis (LOS). The early sepsis occurs within the first week after an infant is delivered while the later onset sepsis occurs after one week has lapsed. In these circumstances, it is notable that neonatal sepsis has posed a significant challenge as the health organizations and facilities are still grappling with how to contain the risk. In this regard, therefore, this paper focuses on analyzing the issue and proposing a reasonable solution.
As earlier noted, despite the significant improvement and reduction of childhood mortality rates especially in the developing countries, it is worth noting that neonatal sepsis for a substantial period has remained a challenge and significant cause of neonatal mortality. As research dictates, for every neonatal death, that occurs, a more substantial percentage is caused by neonatal sepsis. Additional, as Shane et al. (2017) notes, these deaths usually occur between the first weeks of an infant’s life and in most cases, some of these infants die at home before they get to hospitals and thus their case may end up unreported.
Fundamentally, it is notable that it is the norm the newborns are more susceptible to many infections bearing in mind their immune systems are still very week and not fully developed, it even becomes worse when they are born preterm or with other complications. Generally, their innate immune is disrupted by the presence of impaired production of cytokine and in some cases triggered by the slow response on the chemotactic factors, since such infants have a reduced and slow humoral response, hence they are at high risk of contracting an infection.
Despite the health and technological advancements that have helped reduce infants’ mortality due to neonatal sepsis, it is evident that health facilities are still grappling with the challenge of improving and ensuring that the infants survive through the period of infancy without suffering any sepsis conditions (Shane et al., 2017). This problem is even made much worse by the incapacity of the health organizations and facilities to conduct proper diagnosis and general treatment to the susceptible infants. In the same breath, it is also evident that physicians and health practitioners are equally faced with the challenge of conducting diagnosis and offering or making treatment decisions to the infants infected with neonatal sepsis. Similarly, it is also evident that health facilities, especially in developing countries, have a worse problem due to organizational failures and the inability to have reliable surveillance systems.
In the same plane, the challenges mentioned above are worsened by the concept of managing neonatal sepsis because of it being heterogeneous. It is notable that all clinical trials that are also limited have severally and drastically failed to come up with an ideal antibiotic regimen to contain the situation. Further, it is notable that this problem is increased due to the absence of having a universally accepted definition of what is sepsis in infected infants and this lack of an accepted definition by practitioners causes an obstacle for conducting clinical trials to come up with a formidable solution to the challenge. As a result, therefore, most practitioners and physicians opt to use much-needed antibiotic therapy in all the neonates when diagnosed with neonatal sepsis (Shane et al. 2017). However, despite the belief that the antibiotic therapy, it is notable that high mortality rate still exists, the rationale of the mortality is that generally, this antibiotic usually has detrimental consequences on the neonates. Notably, antibiotics in infants cause the development of resistant pathogens and may equally lead to the development of further infections such as wheezing conditions, candida-invasive diseases among others that may cause an early death to the neonate.
When considering the above discussions, research also indicates that different facilities or physician have not settled on what should be the best empiric treatment therapy for neonatal sepsis. In this regard, it is worth noting that a proposed improvement of utilization of oral colostrum care may significantly help reduce risks of neonatal sepsis. It is a known fact that in newly born babies or premature infants, the immune system is basically underdeveloped and very weak thus making them susceptible to a myriad of infections (Pammi and Abrams, 2015). In the same breath, it is also evident that human milk significantly contains factors that support the growth of an infant effectively and fight away any source of infections;these factors are usually found in the colostrum of the mother’s milk.
Generally, it is biologically plausible that mother’s milk contains colostrum that works as the best oral immune therapy among the infants. The reasoning is based on the fact that human milk has unique properties that contain epigenetic, immunologic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, and generally mucosal membranes protection characteristics that are critical in the development of an infant. As noted above, colostrum contains lactoferrin, antioxidants, oligosaccharides, growth factors among other components that usually lack in mature milk. Research has also indicated that colostrum stimulates and triggers the neonatal immune system growth (Pammi and Abrams, 2015). In the same breath, through the oral mucosa, immunological factors are easily absorbed primarily in the gut which helps develop a protective immune barrier that aids reduce the susceptibility of infections.
Basically, when a mother delivers a baby, the milk colostrum has a higher concentration of lactoferrin components among others, these components greatly support the infants innate immune response, the elements also contain factors that help prevent the development of pathogen and related organisms thus ensuring that infants survive from neonatal sepsis (Pammi and Abrams, 2015).
In a nutshell, it is worth noting that colostrum serves as the best therapy for ensuring that newborn infants are not infected with diseases by boosting their immune system. On the other hand, it is worth noting that health facilities should improve on the provisions of oral colostrum therapy on the infants or neonates in the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) other than using manufactured antibiotics. The limiting challenge in these circumstances, however, revolves around the means of acquiring the regimen needed, however, the affordable solution thus is that a mechanical breast pump will be used to extract enough supply of colostrum milk to the neonate.
Pammi, M., & Abrams, S. A. (2015). Oral lactoferrin for the prevention of sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).
Shane, A. L., Sánchez, P. J., & Stoll, B. J. (2017). Neonatal sepsis. The Lancet, 390(10104), 1770-1780.