Ophthalmia neonatorum is a form of conjunctivitis that occurs in the first few (usually four) weeks of life. Causative infectious agents can be present in the birth canal. An infant is exposed during the birth process, and symptoms develop a few days later. Most of the serious infections leading to corneal damage are caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, but Chlamydia trachomatis is also a common cause of infection. Many other microorganisms have also been implicated. Prophylactic agents instilled in the eyes shortly after birth have greatly reduced the incidence in many industrialized areas, but ophthalmia neonatorum remains an important cause of blindness elsewhere.
(see also: Child Health Services; Chlamydia; Gonorrhea; Newborn Screening )
Feigin, R. D., and Cherry, J. D., eds. (1998). Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 4th edition. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders.