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Gemma Susan Louise Manasseh, 1 Sajeevika Amarakoon, 1 Victoria Photiou, 2 Natalia Arruti, 3 Arundhati Dev Borman1. Approach to conjunctivitis in newborns. Mar 2022. BMJ

What is ophthalmia neonatorum? Ophthalmia neonatorum, also known as neonatal conjunctivitis, describes conjunctivitis occurring within the first 28 days of life.1 It is chemical or infectious in origin, with infections usually contracted from the birth canal of infected mothers during delivery, or from postnatal caregivers. In 2011, analysis of hospital episode statistics from NHS hospitals in England revealed an incidence of 257 hospitalisations per 100 000 live births due to this condition.2 Untreated infections can cause permanent sight loss and can rapidly disseminate, causing considerable morbidity and even mortality.3 Not all neonatal eye discharge is due to conjunctivitis, however, with congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction being a common and benign cause of sticky eyes in newborns.4 Distinguishing these conditions when babies present to primary care services helps avoid unnecessary referrals to secondary care and undue distress for new parents.

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