The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has warned hospitals that new-born babies suffering infections should be treated within an hour of diagnosis.

In new guidelines issued by the organisation, NICE claim that there were unnecessary delays in treating babies for infection, and that some new-borns risked becoming resistant to antibiotics after receiving treatment that wasn't needed. The guidelines were published in response to investigations that found variations between hospitals over the treatment of babies with early-onset neonatal infection.

Early-onset neonatal infection is fatal in one in four cases, even if treated with antibiotics. As a result, NICE has called on doctors to treat infected babies within an hour of diagnosis, and to use antibiotics appropriately to avoid resistance to the treatment.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: "Early-onset neonatal infection can be very serious and, at present, there is much variation in how it is managed, with sometimes unnecessary delays in recognising and treating sick babies.

"Many babies are receiving antibiotics needlessly, and consequently there is concern that the effectiveness of antibiotics is being reduced because of the development of resistance to them.

"I am sure this new guideline will be welcomed as a useful tool for all those healthcare professionals working in this area."

Story posted by Robert Mair on 23 August 2012