The World Health Organization warns of a recent increase in cases of sepsis in infants in French hospitals. Should we be worried?
In a statement it has just published, the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the recent number of cases of sepsis reported by the French health authorities: “9 cases of severe neonatal sepsis associated with liver failure and to multi-organ failure, seven associated deaths of which have been reported”.
7 infants died
These cases of sepsis were reported in four hospitals in three regions between July 2022 and April 2023 (6 in 2022 and 3 in 2023). All cases had one or more clinical signs suggesting a mother-to-child route of transmission.
Among these nine cases, eight cases were premature (i.e. born before 38 weeks of gestation) and four sets of twins were affected and presented late neonatal sepsis (occurring after one week of birth to three months). 7 infants died and two are still hospitalized in the neonatal unit, however their short-term prognosis is no longer threatened.
Infections caused by enteroviruses
A total of 443 neonatal enterovirus infections of varying severity were reported in 2022. Enteroviruses are a group of viruses that can cause various infectious diseases and are responsible for annual epidemics.
“The disease is generally mild, but has been found to affect newborns differently and sometimes more severely than older children and adults,” the WHO said in a statement. “There are multiple routes of transmission, particularly during the neonatal period, including during childbirth through exposure to maternal blood, secretions, and/or stool, or after birth through close contact with infected caregivers.”
Infections can cause serious inflammatory diseases in newborns, including severe acute hepatitis with coagulopathy.