Group B streptococcal septicemia (“Group B Strep” or “GBS”) is a serious and dangerous bacterial infection that can affect infants soon after labor and delivery. It is an infection of the bloodstream caused by the bacterium Streptococcus agalactiae. It is the most common type of infection among newborns, affecting one out of every 2,000 babies.
Causes of Group B Strep
There are two ways that babies can get Group B Strep infections:
- Early-onset GBS: the baby becomes infected while passing through the birth canal in a vaginal delivery. Symptoms usually appear within the first 24 hours of life, up through the first six days.
- Late-onset GBS: other people may infect the baby when they come into contact.
Injuries Caused by Group B Strep
Once the infection is in the bloodstream, it can travel to the baby’s organs. In the worst cases, the baby may die because of the infection. If treatment is ineffective or delayed, the baby could have developmental delays, pneumonia, blindness, seizures, hearing problems or sepsis (blood poisoning).
Preventing and Treating Group B Strep in Newborns
Pregnant women must be screened for Group B Strep, usually around 35 to 37 weeks. About 25% of all adult women carry the bacteria. If the mother tests positive, she should be treated with antibiotics during labor. Risk factors for Group B Strep injuries include:
- Prematurity, particularly with preterm labor
- Maternal fever
- Prior GBS deliveries
- Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
- Intrauterine fetal monitoring
The key to treating Group B Strep in newborns is early identification. Babies may have blue skin, breathing difficulties, lethargy, irregular heart rate and irregular temperature. When a baby presents with these symptoms, the doctors should usually perform a blood test. Treatment with antibiotics, fluids and oxygen therapy will typically cure the problem.
If your child had any complications from Group B Strep, including developmental delays, sepsis, blindness, seizures or hearing problems, contact our Group B Strep lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us an online request for more information.