Most times, a stomach virus, stomach flu or food poisoning is not dangerous to your baby while you are pregnant. A pregnant mother who is vomiting or who has diarrhea while pregnant is treated with bed rest and fluids or admitted to the hospital and administered intravenous (IV) fluids until she is able to keep food and fluids on the stomach. However, a recent finding may make Obstetricians, Pediatricians and Neonatologists pay more attention if a mother is sick during pregnancy or if a newborn becomes ill shortly after birth.
Swiss researchers reported that a newborn became ill with a type of E. coli bacteria after he acquired it from his mother during delivery. What was really unusual about this finding is that the mother did not have any symptoms of a stomach virus or food poisoning during pregnancy. Two days after a normal delivery, the newborn started vomiting and within a week, developed seizures and kidney failure. The baby eventually developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) that was caused by a shiga toxin. When the mother was tested, it showed that she was infected with a strain of E. coli that produces the shiga toxin. Stool testing from both the mother and baby showed that both were infected with the same strain of E. coli and shiga toxin.
This less potent strain of E.coli bacteria meant that the pregnant mother was able to carry this bug without having any symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. However, since her newborn baby's stomach was still germ free or sterile, the bacteria were allowed to multiple in the baby's body without other bacterium attacking it.
The E. coli bacterium can be found in contaminated food such as undercooked meat, dairy products, and juice. It can also be present in swimming pools or lakes that are contaminated with feces and at petting zoos. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) develops when the E. coli that is in the stomach or intestines starts to make toxins or poisons that get into the bloodstream and destroy the red blood cells and platelets.
Even though there are only a few other cases, that we know of, where there was mother-to-baby transmission of shiga toxin-producing E. coli, this must always be a possibility as a source of infection in a newborn even if the mother was not sick during the pregnancy or delivery. Just like any other bacteria, including herpes or group B strep (GBS), that is known to pass from mother to baby during birth, a failure to diagnose and treat the E. coli infection could lead to serious injuries or even death to a newborn.
Here at the Philadelphia Beasley birth injury law firm, we have been award numerous million and multi-million awards and settlements on behalf of birth injured newborns and babies infected with GBS and other infections during labor and delivery. Our experienced lawyers, doctors, prenatal nurses, labor and delivery nurses and neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses are here to help you if your baby was injured during birth or developed an infection in the newborn period. Please feel free to contact us at 1.800.588.0310 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.