Group B Strep (GBS) is a bacteria that is present in approximately 25 percent of all women, many of whom have no symptoms. Unfortunately, Group B Strep can be transmitted from mother to infant during vaginal deliver. When this happens the Group B Strep bacteria can cause an infection that can result in permanent severe injury to the the infant. And about 5 percent of all infants affected by Group B Strep do not survive.How Does Group B Strep Harm Infants?
In some cases, the Group B Strep transmitted from the mother gets into the infant's bloodstream. When this happens, it can lead to sepsis (an infection that has spread throughout the body) and even meningitis. The result can be a permanent disability, or, in some cases, death. The majority of cases, approximately 75 percent, of Group B Strep infections occur within the first week of birth. Many of these occur within a few hours after birth. This is termed an "early onset" of the disease. Almost all other infants who develop a Group B Strep infection do so between one week and several months after birth. This is termed a "late onset" of the disease. Approximately one-half of late onset cases are related to the transmition of the Group B Strep bacteria from the mother. The remaining one-half of late onset of Group B Strep cases are of unknown origin.What are the Long Term Complications of Group B Strep disease?
Infants who suffer from a Group B Strep infection that is not prevented and is not diagnosed and treated right away are at risk of such long term effects as
70 to 80 percent of cases of GBS disease in newborns can be prevented by administration of intravenous antibiotics to the mother at the onset of labor in those cases in which one or more risk factors are present. These include the following:
If one or more of these risk factors are identified, intravenous antibiotics should be offered to the mother as early in labor as possible. It is medically appropriate to perform cultures of the mother's vagina and rectum between 35 and 37 weeks to check for GBS colonization. If a culture has not been done, or the results are not known, antibiotics should still be offered to the mother if her membranes rupture 18 hours or more before delivery, or if she has the onset of labor and/or rupture of membranes before 37 weeks. The antibiotics most commonly given are Penicillin or Ampicillin.How is GBS Disease Diagnosed and Treated?
GBS disease should be considered in any newborn baby who demonstrates signs or symptoms of infection at birth or during the first few months of life. The symptoms may include
If the above symptoms are present, blood tests and cultures of bodily fluids such as urine, sputum, or cerebrospinal fluid are performed to check for the presence of GBS. It generally takes several days to obtain the final results of these tests. Given this, it is generally appropriate to start intravenous antibiotics immediately once GBS disease is suspected. Immediate diagnosis and treatment may make the difference between successful treatment and either a lifetime with a disability or even the death of the baby.Seeking Legal Help
If your child has suffered from Group B Strep resulting in permanent injuries or death, and you suspect that the injury resulted because a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider failed to provide adequate care during the pregnancy, during the labor and delivery of your baby, or after your baby demonstrated symptoms associated with GBS, you should immediately contact an attorney. Do not wait as the law limits the time in which a legal claim must be filed in court or you and your baby will be to forever barred from succeeding on the claim and from recovering any money damages. An attorney will help you explore your legal options and whether you may be able to recover compensation that can be used for your child's care, education, and future.
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