Meningitis is uncommon during the first weeks of life. The mortality incidence of meningitis has changed for the better as a consequence of the introduction and availability of newer and more effective antibiotics, such as chlortetracycline (Aureomycin), oxytetracycline (Terramycin), and chloramphenicol (Chloromycetin). By way of example, before the advent of these antibiotics, of 74 infants less than 2 weeks of age with primary bacterial meningitis, only 7 survived. The morbidity incidence, in the form of impaired cerebral function as a result of meningitis, persists. The high morbidity is partly attributable to poor resistance of the infant to infection and partly to delayed diagnosis.
It is well known that, in some cases, the diagnosis of meningitis in the young infant may be extremely difficult, mainly because of the absence of the characteristic signs: the bulging anterior fontanel; nuchal rigidity; projectile vomiting; and positive Brudzinskis and Kernig's signs. Cyanosis, fever, vomiting,
Gordon HS, Aronow J. ESCHERICHIA COLI MENINGITIS IN FIVE-DAY-OLD INFANTREPORT OF A CASE WITH COMPLETE RECOVERY. JAMA. 1955;159(13):1288–1289. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960300034009
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