Neonatal conjunctivitis

Alternative Names

Newborn conjunctivitis; Conjunctivitis of the newborn; Ophthalmia neonatorum; Herpetic neonatal conjunctivitis

Definition of Neonatal conjunctivitis

Neonatal conjunctivitis is swelling (inflammation) or infection of the tissue lining the eyelids in a newborn.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Neonatal conjunctivitis is most commonly caused by:


Infected newborn infants develop drainage from the eyes within 1 day to 2 weeks after birth.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform an eye exam on the baby. If the eye does not appear normal, the following tests may be done:


Eye irritation that is caused by the eye drops given at birth should go away on its own.

Expectations (prognosis)

Early diagnosis of infected mothers and good preventive practices at hospitals have reduced the incidence of infectious conjunctivitis of the newborn. Infants who do develop conjunctivitis and are quickly treated generally have good outcomes.


Kimberly G. Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/11/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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