What do I need to know?

Cartoon of baby with nose running

If your baby was born premature or sick, find out what you need to know about common infectious illnesses and what to do if you are worried.

The winter months (October to March) can be challenging for those born prematurely (before 37 weeks) and who have lung problems or a congenital heart condition. These babies are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from a common infectious illness.

Seeing your premature or sick baby unwell, especially for the first time, can be worrying and upsetting. This information is about the most common infectious illnesses, what you can do to help protect against them, and what to do if you are worried.

This information, provided by Bliss, should not replace the advice given to you by your healthcare professional (such as your GP or your health visitor) about your baby. It is extra information. If you are worried about your baby’s health, you should always contact a health professional.

This information will be relevant for all parents of premature or sick babies, but probably most useful once you take your baby home. This is because the neonatal unit will have their own processes for limiting the spread of infection, and for spotting the signs of possible illnesses in your baby.

Who can help?

  • Your GP or health visitor
  • Your community neonatal nurse, or family care nurse
  • Your neonatal unit
  • Your neonatal or paediatric consultant (if your baby has been discharged from hospital and visits a clinic)
  • Pharmacists
  • NHS 111
  • 999 in an emergency

We will refer to a baby’s gestational age in this information. This figure will be the age they were born (eg 28 weeks) and not how old they would have been if they had been born when they were due (sometimes called corrected age).