14 babies in KKH's ICU contract conjunctivitis
It is believed the first baby who got the disease, got it from his mum.
According to a Straits Times report, 14 babies at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (Nicu) contracted conjunctivitis, or ‘red eye’ between mid-October and 1 December.
Conjunctivitis, though a common enough eye problem, can be quite painful and involves eye discharge and swelling.
It is believed that the first baby diagnosed with this condition had got the disease from its mother. And just two weeks after this, two other newborns in the Nicu got this same disease too.
Even though “Isolation measures were immediately instituted for these babies upon diagnosis”, according to Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong, chairman of the hospital’s Division of Medicine, subsequently, another 11 babies also got the disease.
Reports quote Professor Ng as saying that these babies, who were warded in the neonatal unit for serious conditions, had been exposed to the virus before they were isolated in Nicu.
Twelve hospital employees working in the Nicu were reportedly also diagnosed with conjunctivitis, and are currently on medical leave.
Dr Ng explains that the “disease is generally self-limiting and treatment is to relieve the symptoms.”
Keeping newborns safe from illness
Newborns are particularly vulnerable to disease because their immune systems are still developing and strengthening. This is why it’s so important to practice good hygiene when around them or handling them.
A condition like conjunctivitis can easily be transmitted to a baby or child via discharge from the infected person’s eyes, nose and throat through coughing, sneezing and cough. It can also be passed on by contaminated fingers or objects.
Here are some tips to keep your newborn free of illness as much as possible:
- Don’t encourage visitors for at least a few weeks after your baby is born, as especially if they are sick themselves.
- Anyone handling your newborn should wash their hands often.
- Reduce kissing your baby on the face (hard, we know!) because saliva and mucous are notorious breeding grounds for germs.
- Keep your little one away from crowed places like malls and festivals for at least a few weeks after his birth.
- Vaccinations are not just important for your baby. Make sure all caregivers — including parents — are up-to-date on their vaccinations too.
What rules related to hygiene did you set in place when your child was a newborn? Let us know in a comment below.