Bengaluru, 23 September 2022: Life sounded blissful when Shravan(Name Changed) was born to Lalitha and Sanjeev (Name Changed) about a month back. They were blessed to become parents to a healthy baby who had no health complications when he went back home after his birth. But the happiness suddenly struck a rocky road when 8-day old Shravan was brought to the Outpatient Department at Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre with complaints of yellowish discoloration of skin and eyes.

Shravan was admitted in NICU for treatment of jaundice while doctors had recommended Phototherapy. However, after two hours of his admission, the newborn showed symptoms of respiratory distress and had to be administered with oxygen. His chest X-Ray revealed bilateral pneumonitis which helped in starting his treatment with antibiotics. While this treatment was provided, the treating doctors noticed continuous pus discharge from Shravan’s umbilical cord. The doctors, Dr. Leenatha Reddy N, Consultant – Paediatrics and Neonatology, Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre along with Dr. S Indu Nair, Senior Consultant – Paediatrics & Neonatology, Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre, Bengaluru conducted an ultrasound of the abdomen to clarify their doubts. To their shock, Shravan had liver abscess or Hepatic Abscess of about 1.7 cms.

 While we had immediately started treatment with appropriate dosage of antibiotics, his continuous pus discharge was the trigger for us to identify that Shravan’s life was at risk. Shravan, a term baby (38+2 weeks of gestation) weighing 2.3 kgs, IUGR, at time of birth, was a healthy baby. Hepatic abscess was completely uncalled for, and it needed immediate action. We upgraded his IV antibiotics to third generation for both gram positive and gram negative coverage. We performed ultrasounds regularly and monitored his health condition thoroughly. When the results of his liver abscess showed 0.9 cms, his condition had improved. The whole process of treatment took 14 days,” said Dr. Leenatha Reddy N, Consultant – Paediatrics and Neonatology, Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre.

Explaining about Liver Abscess in neonates and children, Dr. Leenatha Reddy N, said, “Neonatal liver abscess is seen rarely and mostly reported resulting from an ascending infection via the umbilical cord and portal veins, hematogenous spread on via biliary tree or via direct contagious spread from any neighboring structures. In Shravan’s case, liver abscess was caused due to application of turmeric and coconut oil as part of a tradition which his family followed. Pus discharge, fever, abdominal distension and tenderness, feed intolerance, sepsis, vomiting, are some of the most common symptoms that parents must watch out for. If the problem is not dealt with prompt administration of antibiotics, the patient may need surgical intervention for therapeutic drainage of pus.”

Adding further, Dr. Leenatha Reddy N shared, “Caring for umbilical cord is crucial in newborns. After birth, the umbilical cord is clamped near belly button which usually falls off by itself after about 10 days. Parents or caretakers of the baby must clean the umbilical cord with normal sponge bath and pat dry with cotton cloth. They must follow the instructions given by the Bath section experts in the hospital and avoid following traditions which involves applying oil, turmeric, cow dung or even coal. Always keep the area dry and report immediately if redness or yellow discharge is noticed near the belly button. Breastfeed the baby at an interval of 2 hours. It is always better to share concerns with doctors and not blindly listen to age-old customs.”

Thanking the doctors and the hospital staff for their alertness and prompt treatment mechanism, Lalitha and Sanjeev said, “Shravan came into our lives as a blessing, and we want to keep him safe always. When he was diagnosed with liver abscess, we were clueless about his treatment but the doctors at Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre did everything to ensure that Shravan was safe and given proper treatment. He is now discharged and keeping well. We thank the doctors, hospital staff and everyone for keeping our child safe and saving his life.”