Paediatric Consultant, Dr Anna Maw, talks about Meningitis in babies and children; the differing causes, and how to use the 'glass' test if you are concerned about your child's rash.
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord, and it can spread from that fluid into the brain itself. And it can be a really dangerous condition that can cause long-term damage to the baby's developing brain. There are lots of different causes of meningitis. It can be a virus or a bacteria. And the one we're going to talk about now is the one named Meningococcal meningitis, which is
associated with a very characteristic rash.
So, you may know about the glass test. And that's a test where you can press the side of a glass against the spot of the rash on your child's skin. Usually, in rashes, and they're very common in children, that spot will disappear when you press it and you'll be able to see that through the side of the glass. If you press the spot and doesn't go away, that's called a non-blanching rash, and a non-blanching rash in a small child is a
worrying sign. And that's something where you should immediately take your child along to see the GP or to your local emergency department.
Way back in 1999, my son Thomas, he was at nursery in the morning, and I picked him up, I think, maybe 12 o'clock because it's where you go at nine and finish at 12. And he was complaining that he was feeling tired and you know, "Oh, my legs are tired." I'd be all, "Come on, Tom." You know stop being silly, because sometimes he can be a bit lazy. But no, "Mum, my legs are tired." Got him home and he went straight to bed, which is quite unusual for him. And later on that afternoon, his father came back, and I
said, "Tom has been feeling a bit funny, and he's been asleep for a long, long time." So we took his temperature, and it was extremely high. And we called up the doctor, and they said, "Well, just keep an eye on him." And, he woke up a bit later, and again, he wasn't looking right, he was feeling, it just didn't seem right, and if I remember then, Alex phoned up his mother, and she said, "I think maybe you should, you know, maybe go the doctor." And then we saw the rash, and only a few spots on his chest. They're not
really spots, but tiny little deep red marks, and at that point, we panicked.
And it was late, at this point, it was fairly late at night, and jumped in the car. I drove like a mad woman, Alex in the back. I went through every single red light, hand on the horn. I drove to St. Mary's, Alex took him straight up. I had to park. Within literally seconds, there were about six doctors around him, and they weren't quite sure really at
this point what it was. And then, that was it. In ten minutes, no more than that, he was up in intensive care, and it was Meningococcal Septicemia, which is the highest form of meningitis. And even to the day, they said we were lucky that we were near to St. Mary's because St. Mary's is the hospital for meningitis. And we were lucky that we went there straight away. If we'd been an hour later, without a doubt, he would've been dead. And I'm very pleased to tell you that Thomas is now healthy, and survived a horrible, horrible, horrible meningitis.
Find out more about Meningitis in babies at: http://www.essentialparent.com/baby-care-development/everyday-baby-care-health/meningitis-in-babies.aspx
Buy the Care & Development DVD here: http://www.essentialparent.com/ecommerce/baby-care-guide/baby-care-development/care-development-dvd.aspx
Translations available in English for the hard of hearing.