Meningitis is an illness which is known to affect the youth of the population, and amongst those most at risk are infants from 6-18 months, and children under 5. The illness can be serious, but the earlier it is caught and treated, the more chance of a complete recovery is possible. So it’s important to know what to look out for, and what to do, if your child is affected.

Information from the Meningitis Foundation states that bacterial meningitis can start out with flu like symptoms and can rapidly deteriorate, becoming fatal, or leading to lifelong disabilities. So knowing what to look out for is the best way to help diagnose it early.

Here are the symptoms to look out for in babies…

  • Fever -sometimes with cold hands and feet.
  • Not Feeding & Vomiting
  • High Pitched Crying & Whimpering- Unusual and higher-pitched than their normal cry.
  • Fretting/ Not wanting to be cuddled
  • Body Stiffness/Neck Retraction & Arching of Back– Babies that are arching their backs, who’s heads are thrown back, and who have a bulging fontanelle (soft point on top of head), may be showing stronger symptoms of meningitis.
  • Blank Expression– If your little one isn’t reacting as they usually would, and look blank, this may be a symptom.
  • Lethargic & Difficult To Wake– Your baby may be hard to wake or can feel floppy.
  • Pale/ Blotchy Skin
  • Dislike of Bright Lights
  • Fits
  • Rash- A well known sign of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, which is a sign on blood poisoning (Septicaemia), though this in many cases may not appear.

Trust your instincts. If you do think your child has symptoms of meningitis, seek medical help as soon as possible. The NHS urge you to not wait for a rash to appear, and if you think your little one is seriously unwell, advise you to call 999 for an ambulance, or go to your nearest A&E department.

Remember, babies and children are offered vaccines to help protect them against the illness when they are little too, and sometimes as children and teenagers. You can read more about them on the NHS‘ website here.