About this information

NICE clinical guidelines advise the NHS on caring for people with specific conditions or diseases and the treatments they should receive. The information applies to people using the NHS in England and Wales.

This information explains the advice about the use of antibiotics to prevent and treat early-onset bacterial infections in newborn babies that is set out in NICE clinical guideline 149.

'Early-onset' means infections that arise within 72 hours of the baby's birth. 'Bacterial' means any type of infection caused by bacteria, rather than an infection caused by a virus, fungus or parasite (such as rubella, thrush or toxoplasmosis).

Does this information apply to me?

Yes, if:

  • you are a pregnant women whose unborn baby may be at a higher risk than average of developing a bacterial infection within 72 hours of birth.

  • your baby was born before 37 weeks (premature birth); because they have a higher than average risk of getting an infection.

  • your newborn baby has a suspected or confirmed bacterial infection, or has a high risk of infection because of possible transmission from the mother.

The information does not cover:

  • screening tests to identify pregnant women whose unborn babies are at higher risk of early-onset bacterial infection.

  • newborn babies with a suspected or confirmed non-bacterial infection, or a suspected or confirmed bacterial infection if they are more than 3 days (72 hours) old.

  • babies with a suspected or confirmed bacterial infection that happened after a medical procedure, such as an operation.

  • babies with suspected or confirmed syphilis.

  • Information Standard