A nine-month-old boy developed pneumococcal meningitis, which caused his brain to swell. He was also suffering from respiratory failure and a series of minor strokes. Find out what doctors did to save his life.
What do you do when your child is hanging on to dear life and a doctor steps in with an unusual, perhaps not tested, option to save his life? Would you agree and allow your precious baby to be a lab rat or play safe? But how would you know what’s safer?
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The path lesser travelled
Baby Robert Airey was only nine months and doctors were struggling to save him as the swelling continued in his brain after being diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis.
Professor Colin Kennedy and Dr Neil Thomas, pediatric neurologists took an unconventional stance and decided to treat Robert by giving him aspirin in daily doses. Baby Robert and the blood clots in his brain were treated successfully.
Professor Kennedy shared: “Aspirin is not a conventional treatment for children with meningitis, particularly babies, but the severity of this situation and the need for fast action changed the likely balance of risk and benefit.”
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Managing baby meningitis
A mother’s joy
Robert’s 34-year-old mother who is a general practitioner, Sarah said: “Miracle can be an overused term, but I think it’s relevant here. From what we expected, to him making it and then recovering so well – it was an against the odds job. And to see him playing in the mud, rolling around and playing with the other children is an amazing sight.”
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Baby Robert’s symptoms
When Robert started feeling sick, he had mainly cough and cold symptoms for several days but then his temperature suddenly sky rocketed. Mum and dad saw that Robert was pale, limp, breathing rapidly and had cold hands and feet. He was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital where he was given the pneumococcal meningitis and respiratory failure diagnoses.
Sarah shared: “From one minute being at home enjoying our first Christmas with Robert, we found ourselves in hospital being told he had severe meningitis and was suffering from respiratory failure. It was terrifying.”
What is baby meningitis?
How many children suffer from baby meningitis? The disease, which causes inflammation in the spinal cord and brain, affects as many as 200 people annually and babies are mainly targeted because of their vulnerable immune systems that are yet to be fully developed. According to the report in Daily Mail, over 20% will not survive the infection and half actually have long-term health complications.
Baby meningitis symptoms
There are actually many forms of baby meningitis but the two main ones are viral and bacterial. Serious cases can cause brain damage or deafness. There are no exact symptoms to baby meningitis, so if your baby is acting out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate pay a visit to the doctor. The common symptoms below could be anything as simple as a flu to potentially deadly baby meningitis.
1. Moaning and crying in an unusual manner
2. High fever with cold hands and feet
3. Rash or unusual spots on the body
4. Lethargy and drowsiness—hard to wake up
5. Limp, weak, unresponsive, listless
6. Throwing up
7. Fast breaths and grunts
8. Not eating any food
9. Does not like being touched
10. Blotchy or even pale skin
11. Fits or seizures—in advanced stages
12. Bulging soft spot on top of head