This guideline covers preventing infection within 72 hours of birth in healthy babies, treating pregnant women whose baby is at risk, and caring for babies who have a suspected or confirmed infection. It aims to reduce delays in recognising and treating sick babies and prevent unnecessary use of antibiotics.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • Pregnant women and their families and carers

Is this guideline up to date?

We reviewed the evidence in July 2014. We found nothing new that affects the recommendations in this guideline.

Next review: January 2017

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline was previously called antibiotics for early-onset neonatal infection: antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of early-onset neonatal infection.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) accreditation logo