What are the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea in neonates?

Updated: Jun 15, 2021
  • Author: Shahab Qureshi, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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In neonates, bilateral conjunctivitis (ophthalmia neonatorum) often follows vaginal delivery from an untreated, infected mother. However, transmission to the newborn can also occur in utero or in the postpartum period.

Symptoms of gonococcal conjunctivitis include eye pain, redness, and a purulent discharge. Neonates may also acquire pharyngeal, respiratory, or rectal infection or disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI).

The organism can cause permanent injury to the eye very quickly. Prompt recognition and treatment are essential to avoid blindness. Blindness due to neonatal gonococcal infection is a serious problem in developing countries but is now uncommon in the United States and in other countries where neonatal conjunctival prophylaxis with antimicrobial therapy is routine. Nevertheless, infants of mothers with untreated infections, poor prenatal care, and unmonitored births continue to be at risk.

Direct infection with N gonorrhoeae in neonates may also occur through the scalp at the sites of fetal monitoring electrodes.

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