Antibiotic-resistant bugs claim over 200 000 infants globally per year, finds major study

12 June 2023



12 June 2023 

“The death of a child affects us all. Witnessing the loss of a newborn baby who has sepsis is terribly traumatic, especially so when antibiotics used to treat the child are ineffective,” says neonatologist Professor Sithembiso Velaphi.

“It’s very heavy for a mother to carry her baby, give birth, watch as her newborn gets seriously sick from infection, suffers while being pricked with drips and pumped with drugs to try and save the child – only for her to leave the hospital empty handed. It’s painful,” says Velaphi, who is the head of Paediatrics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg.

Nurses and doctors feel sad and crushed too when they cannot save a newborn’s life because of antibiotic resistance to bacterial infections. “We need to prioritise the development of antibiotics to treat these babies. For us, success is seeing a baby get better and going home,” he says.

Velaphi was speaking to Spotlight about a landmark global observational study published in the journal Plos Medicine (June 8) which found that many neonates (within 60 days of birth) get life-threatening bloodstream infections, or sepsis, and are dying because the antibiotics used to treat them are not effective. This is the first global overview to assess the extent of the problem. Spotlight last year reported on interim findings from the same study.


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