Group B Streptococcus, also known as GBS, Group B strep, beta strep, or baby strep, is a bacterium that can be in a mother's vagina or rectum and during delivery it can be passed along to the baby, causing an infection in the newborn.
Each year, approximately 1,200 babies in the US become infected with the group B strep disease. If a pregnant woman has GBS and does not get antibiotics during labor, her baby has a 1 in 200 chance of contracting the Group B step infection. In addition to the baby becoming infected, a pregnant woman can also develop bladder infections or urinary tract infections (UTI's), pyelonephritis, womb or uterus infections, Chorioamnionitis, uterine scarring, or endometriosis. Because women who have Group B strep do not have any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women be screened or tested for Group B strep when they are 35 to 37 weeks pregnant.
To help prevent newborns from becoming infected with GBS, women who tested positive for strep should be given antibiotics during labor. If a pregnant mother does not know whether she is group B positive or not, antibiotics should be given if labor started before 37 weeks gestation, there is prolonged rupture of the membranes or "water bag" or has a fever during labor. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
Newborns that are infected with Group B strep may show the following symptoms:
- Difficulty feeding
- Lethargy or overly tired
- Limp or life-less
- Difficulty breathing
- Grunting while breathing
- Nostril flaring
- Bluish color to skin
- Paleness or pallor
- Rapid breathing
- Periods of apnea or stops breathing
- Unstable body temperature
If an infant is diagnosed with a Group B strep infection, they must immediately be treated with antibiotics to stop the infection from causing further damage to the baby. Sometimes, the newborn may also need intravenous (IV) fluids, oxygen or a breathing machine to help them until the infection is cleared from their body. If the GBS is not diagnosed and treated right away, it can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, brain damage, sepsis, seizures, cerebral palsy, blindness, mental retardation, deafness, speech delays, language delays, developmental delays or even death.
Here at the Beasley birth injury law firm, we are currently representing numerous babies that have suffered devastating neurological injuries and irreversible brain damage due to a Group B strep infection that was not properly prevented or appropriately treated. Since 1958, we have had over $2 billion awarded on behalf of our injured clients. If your baby developed a Group B strep infection, please feel free to contact one of our experienced lawyers, doctors, neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses or labor and delivery nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.