Neonatal meningitis is a life-threatening disease that causes inflammation of the layers that surround the brain and spinal cord.
These layers are called the meninges - they help to protect the brain from injury and infection.
Neonatal meningitis occurs in the first 28 days of life. It can be separated into two groups: ‘early onset’ and ‘late onset’, depending on the time elapsed between birth and disease.
Many different organisms can cause neonatal meningitis, but the most common bacterial cause in the UK is Streptococcus agalactiae, more commonly known as group B Streptococcus (GBS). Other bacterial causes include E. coli and Listeria. Viruses can also cause neonatal meningitis.
There are currently no vaccines to protect against neonatal meningitis.
Although many babies will make a good recovery, some will be left with life-changing after-effects and some will die.
- Neonatal meningitis occurs in the first 28 days of life
- Many different organisms can cause neonatal meningitis, including Group B streptococcal, E. coli and Listeria bacteria. Viruses can also cause neonatal meningitis
- Several hundred babies contract neonatal meningitis each year in the UK
- 10-12% of these cases are fatal
- Up to 50% may be left with after-effects
For more information about neonatal meningitis, download our fact sheet.