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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Why does my baby need a lumbar puncture?

If your baby is at risk of infection (for example if your baby is premature or the waters broke around baby at least 24 hours before delivery) or he/she is unwell, a lumbar puncture may be included as part of the infection screen.

A lumbar puncture is typically done to look for meningitis, an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Although meningitis is a rare occurrence it is important to detect and treat the condition as soon as possible.

A lumbar puncture is a procedure in which a small amount of fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is removed and examined.

Fluid collected from a lumbar puncture is immediately sent to the laboratory and analysed for evidence of an infection. Initial results are available within 2-3 hours although the final results are not ready for at least 48 hours.

During this time your baby will receive antibiotics for at least 48 hours until all the results are available and a decision can be made about continuation of antibiotic therapy.

If you have any other questions or concerns about your baby having a lumbar puncture, the medical and nursing staff will be happy to answer your questions.