Basic first aid for your baby: spotting meningitis

Baby crying

It’s common for babies to pick up coughs and colds but would you know if it was something more serious?

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord caused by viruses or bacteria.

What are the symptoms?

It can be hard to recognise the flu-like symptoms but the key is that your child’s symptoms get worse and worse. If he’s up and down, it’s unlikely to be meningitis. Early symptoms include:

  • High temperature
  • Drowsiness, listlessness
  • A dazed expression
  • Not feeding
  • A dislike of bright lights

Symptoms then develop more quickly to:

  • A bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the head)
  • An arching back or floppy body
  • A high-pitched, shrill or moaning cry
  • A rash that begins as a cluster of blood spots like pin pricks and develops into large purple marks that don’t fade under pressure.

What should you do…

It’s vital to take your child to your doctor or A&E immediately. If it’s faster to get to your doctor, go straight to the surgery where your baby will be given penicillin. Don’t sit and wait in the waiting room, ask to see a doctor immediately.

For give yourself more confidence when it comes to recognising the signs of meningitis, watch this video with advice from the British Red Cross.

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