Group B Streptococcus
Our Chicago Birth Injury Attorneys Represent Clients Nationwide in Cases Related to Group B Strep
Group B streptococcus (also called Group B strep or GBS) is a common type of bacteria that can cause infection. About 25% of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria, which live naturally in the intestines and the urinary and genital tracts. Most mothers do not even know they carry it. Below, our Chicago birth injury lawyers discuss the risks of passing Group B streptococcus to a baby, signs and symptoms, and common treatment options.
Group B strep typically does not cause serious illness in adults. However, it can cause severe injuries to newborns if exposed during labor and delivery. Pregnant moms who have GBS can pass those bacteria to their babies during labor and childbirth. GBS can also spread if the baby swallows fluids containing GBS. About five percent of babies who get GBS die from the infection. Therefore, the infection should be diagnosed and treated by an obstetrician.
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Group B streptococcus may lead to life-threatening conditions for newborns. It may lead to pneumonia, sepsis (infection of the blood), meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain) and death. Meningitis caused by a GBS infection may result in cerebral palsy, hearing and learning problems and seizures.
If your baby suffered harm due to a Group B strep infection during labor or delivery, contact our birth injury lawyers. We represent families nationwide. During a free, confidential consultation, we will discuss your situation. We will answer your legal questions, and determine whether we may be able to help you.
When Do You Test for GBS in Pregnancy?
Between 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy, an obstetrician, certified nurse midwife or other healthcare provider will test for GBS by taking a swab of the mother’s vagina and rectum. You will be notified of your GBS test results, which will also be recorded on your prenatal record. If your provider does not give you the test results, ask him or her for them.
If the GBS test is positive for infection, IV antibiotics (usually penicillin) are administered during labor. Treatment works best when it begins at least 4 hours before childbirth. For moms who were not tested for GBS during pregnancy, medical providers can perform quick screening tests during labor.
What Is the Risk of Passing GBS to My Baby?
If GBS is present during childbirth and it is not treated, there is a one to two percent chance that the infection will be passed to the baby. Risk of passing GBS is higher if the following exist:
- Baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy;
- Mother has a fever greater than 100.4 degrees F while in labor;
- Mother’s water breaks 12 hours or more before her baby is born;
- Mother previously delivered a baby with a GBS infection;
- Maternal infection of the placental tissues and amniotic fluid (chorioamnionitis);
- Mother had a urinary tract infection (UTI) during the pregnancy that GBS caused.
What Are the Signs of Group B Strep in Newborns?
According to the March of Dimes, about half of all GBS infections in newborns are early-onset. During the first seven days of life, early-onset GBS may present:
- Difficulty feeding
- Trouble breathing
Signs and symptoms of a GBS infection in a newborn may not be immediately visible. Signs of late-onset GBS may be apparent between seven days and three months of age. Symptoms include:
- Difficulty feeding
- Staring off into space
What Is the Treatment for a Newborn Who Tests Positive for GBS?
Babies born with a GBS infection will receive antibiotics through an IV. Depending on the baby’s condition, IV fluids, oxygen or other medications may also be administered. However, even with treatment, GBS can be life-threatening.
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If you believe your baby suffered a GBS infection during labor or delivery, contact our birth injury lawyers. We may be able to help you.