Group B Streptococcus (GBS) – Hazard to Newborn Babies?
This type of bacteria can cause problems for mothers and their unborn children as if the mother is a carrier (or ‘colonised with’) group B streptococcus, there is a potential risk that she may pass this on to her unborn child. In the majority of cases pregnant women who are colonised by GBS will have no symptoms and most babies will not be harmed and will simply carry the bacteria themselves, but in some cases GBS can cause problems such as:
- Late miscarriage/complications
- Premature birth
Group B Strep infections in newborn babies are usually preventable and if caught early enough Strep B can be treated successfully.
However if you felt that medical staff failed to diagnose this condition early enough and you and your baby suffered unnecessarily you could be entitled to make a medical negligence claim for compensation.
What is GBS?
It is one of the many bacteria that live in the body and can usually be found in the vaginal, anal and gastrointestinal tracts.
The infection is spread to babies before or during delivery.
Who is at risk?
You are at increased risk if:
- You have previously had a baby with GBS infection
- If you have a urine infection during pregnancy and a urine sample finds GBS
- GBS is found during vaginal or rectal swabs
- You have an a fever during labour
- You go into premature labour
- You give birth more than 18 hours after your waters have broken
Signs and Symptoms of GBS
Group B streptococcal disease in newborn babies is usually split into early and late disease. If a newborn has an early-onset GBS infection, then the usual signs and symptoms occur within the first 24 hours of their life (but can also be up to 7 days after their birth). Newborns who develop late-onset group B strep infections can often appear healthy as the signs and symptoms do not start developing until 7 days after birth and can be up to 3 months after birth.
Signs and symptoms of this infection in babies include
- Breathing problems/grunting noises,
- Cyanosis/bluish tinge
- Floppy and unresponsive
- Abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure
- Poor feeding
Complications of GBS
A GBS infection in a baby can in some severe cases result in sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, severe learning difficulties and occasionally death.
Antibiotics should be given intravenously during labour to stop the infection passing to the baby. The IV antibiotics should be given for at least 4 hours before the baby is born. Routine screening for this condition is not currently offered.
Do you have a claim?
At Simpson Millar we recognise the devastating, and in some cases fatal, effect that the failure to diagnose GBS, or a delay in specialist treatment, can have.
If you would like to talk to a member of our specialist team for an assessment of your potential claim then please contact us for a confidential and free discussion today.
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