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Group B Strep Infections in Babies


Baby holding fingersHave you or your loved one suffered a Group B Strep infection? GBS, or Group B streptococci, is a type of bacterial infection that impacts women. It can have a devastating outcome when children are born with it. However, there are preventative steps available to help minimize the life-changing risks that may occur. If you’ve suffered any loss related to the negligence of your doctor, or you are unsure if you have a case, contact Davis Levin Livingston to discuss your case at any time.

What Is Group B Strep?

As noted Group B strep is a high-risk infection. There are two main forms of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first is early-onset, which occurs during the initial week of life. The second is late onset, which occurs after that first week but up to three months into a child’s life. Early onset is the most common form.

This bacterial infection can impact as much as 25 to 40 percent of women. This form of strep is significantly more severe than that which many people get each year that results in a sore throat. However, doctors screen for this condition before labor and delivery occur. And, preventive tools are available to minimize any risk to the child. This can help to eliminate the risk of a child receiving the bacteria.

It is estimated that about 900 children get early-onset GBS every year. In some cases, the condition can be prevented through proper screening and treatment.

What Are the Causes of Group B Strep?

Doctors are not fully sure what causes Group B strep. They know that the bacteria tend to develop in the vagina or rectal area of the mother. The bacteria can be on the body and is transferred to the child during the birthing process. It is not uncommon for most people to have some form of strep, including Group B strep on the body, but in adults, it is less of a concern in terms of health complications.

Can It Be Prevented?

The key question many people want to know is this – can it be prevented so you don’t have to worry about your child getting it? The answer is yes, in most cases. Doctors generally check for the presence of the bacteria during routine blood work and pregnancy screenings. If a mother has the condition and she is about to give birth, doctors also have tools to help at this level. Specifically, they can use an IV antibiotic to treat prior to the beginning of labor.

Having the very best possible care during the birthing process is important. It is by far the most important step in helping your child to avoid contracting this condition during labor and delivery. Individuals who have this condition and know about it heading into labor should let their doctors and nurses know in advance of labor.

A lack of taking these actions by a doctor could be a form of medical malpractice.

How Do Babies Develop Group B Strep?

As noted, babies get the condition after being exposed during the birthing process. Some babies are at a higher risk of getting it than others. For example, risk factors for developing GBS include:

  • The mother tests positive for the bacteria during the late portion of the pregnancy, usually between 35 and 37 weeks
  • Urine tests obtained during the pregnancy indicate the presence of the bacteria
  • Babies born early; children born prior to 37 weeks are at a higher risk
  • Mothers who have had previous births with babies that have had the condition
  • A birth that takes a long time can increase the risk; especially when the birth lasts 18 hours or more between the time that the mother’s water breaks and the delivery happens

For late-onset GBS there is less information about why it occurs or what types of factors put the child at an increased risk. However, most individuals find this form is less common.

Dangers of GBS to Mothers and Babies

There is an increased risk of life-threatening illness in young babies who contract this condition. This includes inflammation of the lungs, meningitis (inflammation of the brain membranes and fluid), as well as blood infections. Children born with the condition could be at high risk of long-term complications.

Women who are pregnant, and who develop group B strep can experience urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, infections of the amniotic fluid and placenta, and inflammation of the uterus membrane lining.

In some situations, Group B strep can be life-threatening. In others, it can lead to conditions such as physical and mental impairment.

Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Case in Honolulu?

If you believe you could have been exposed unnecessarily or that your doctor mistreated or cared for you, we encourage you to call our team at Davis Levin Livingston to learn more about your legal options. Call us at (808) 740-0633 or use our online form now.