Umbilicus, infection of

Usually occurring within the first six days after birth. The severed umbilical cord is an open wound liable to infection. The cause is usually a staphylococcus, whose source must be sought in the immediate surroundings. Tetanus infection can also occur, probably as a result of poor hygiene. If infection sets in, the skin around the navel becomes red and swollen, and the navel itself discharges fluid containing pus. The principal danger is contamination via the large blood vessels behind the navel, which can lead to blood poisoning’ (sepsis). Umbilical infection can be avoided by binding the remaining section of the umbilical cord with sterile gauze and handling the baby in as hygienic a manner as possible. If infection neverthless occurs, it can be treated with antibiotics.

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