Maternal Sepsis and Neonatal Health: Shayla’s Story

May 14, 2024

Shayla was born a few weeks early at a healthy 6lbs 8oz. She was a happy newborn for the first two weeks of her life.

“Around 2 weeks old things started to change – Shayla started to vomit and seemed to sleep more than I was comfortable with, so I took her to her pediatrician,” Shayla’s mom Kaitlin shared.

Shayla’s family returned to the pediatrician and ER multiple times as her condition worsened. Her temperature was low, and she was lethargic. Finally, Shayla’s doctors found that she had an E. coli infection, which had progressed into severe septic shock.

“One of the main things we were repeatedly told was her temp was low, and that didn’t raise red flags to them. As a newborn, doctors primarily focus on looking out for fevers. They drill that into your head as a parent with a newborn – no one ever stopped to say her temp was too low – her temp never got above 97.3 (Fahrenheit) while her infections spread.”

Shayla had had a urine test, but the results were never sent to her doctors. Shayla’s parents pushed to have her urine test reviewed, and the results showed that she had a UTI that was never diagnosed. She was now in severe septic shock.

Shayla’s family credits her survival to their consistent advocating for their daughter’s needs.

“We hope families with fragile newborns in their lives or anyone who needs it can use Shayla’s story to seek answers, and remind doctors that fevers aren’t the only life-threatening temperatures in children. Even when a child has a lower-than-average temp with other symptoms, we encourage everyone to pursue it as a symptom to explore a diagnosis when one cannot be found.”

To read Shayla’s full Faces of Sepsis™ story, click here.

Read more Faces of Sepsis stories about sepsis in pregnancy and newborns here.

Maternal and neonatal sepsis cases are increasing, while sepsis awareness rates in the U.S. are decreasing. From 2021 to 2022, infant mortality rates increased significantly for two of the 10 leading causes of death, maternal complications and sepsis.

There are many risk factors associated with sepsis in the newborn population:

  • Premature birth,
  • Low socioeconomic status,
  • Mothers who identify as Black, native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic,
  • Mothers with untreated Group B streptococcus (GBS),
  • And mothers with prolonged labor (water broke more than 18 hours before delivery).

Knowing these risk factors can help parents stay alert to signs and symptoms of sepsis in newborns and parents.

Sepsis can result from any infection. Some of the most common causes of sepsis in the neonatal population include:

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of sepsis in children, click here.


To discover more maternal sepsis information and resources, please visit

To discover Sepsis Alliance’s healthcare professional education offerings, including courses on maternal sepsis and AMR, please visit

To learn more about sepsis and children, visit:

To send a letter to your local newspaper about the maternal sepsis crisis, please visit our Grassroots Action Center.