What is Group B Streptococcus or GBS?
Group B streptococcal or GBS is a serious bacterial infection. In newborns, this infection can lead to death and disability. The GBS bacteria usually reside in the intestines, rectum and vagina. During childbirth, it can be passed to the baby by the mother.
Usually the transmission of GBS from the pregnant mother to the baby is preventable. This means that birth injuries from all the horrible infections resulting from GBS can be avoided.
Symptoms and Complications
Symptoms of group B strep may include:
- High or low body temperature
- High respiratory rate
- Low energy level
- Trouble in feeding
Newborns infected with group B strep may:
- Get a Blood infection (sepsis)
- Get a Lung infection (pneumonia)
- Get an infection of the fluid or tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Pass away
Group B Streptococcus can be there in a woman at any time. It might be present in the first pregnancy, or following pregnancies. Usually its presence in a woman is harmless, but in pregnancy it is a threat. The following are the risk factors that increase the chances that an infant may develop Group B Streptococcus:
- Mothers who have previously given birth to a GBS infected baby are at 10 times the risk.
- GBS detected in a mother at any time of pregnancy increases the risk 4 times.
- Preterm or early labor, i.e. water breaking before 37 weeks of pregnancy, the risk increases 3 times in such a situation.
- Prolonged labor, i.e. more than 18 hours duration from water breaking to delivery, this increases the risk by 3 times.
- High body temperature (37.8°C or higher) of the mother during labor increases the risk by 3 times. High temperature has less significance in women who are given epidurals as compared to women not on epidurals.
- Women having GBS and one or more risk factors combined are at a 12 times higher risk.
Testing for GBS
Pregnant women get tested during the third trimester or 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The best test to detect GBS is sensitive enriched culture method (ECM) test. In case GBS is detected in the pregnant mother, preventive measures are taken timely to minimize transmission risk to the baby. Intravenous administration of antibiotics during labor have a dramatic effect in reducing the risk of transmission of the deadly infection to the infant.
Prevention of GBS
Prevention of Group B Streptococcus is the best bet for the safety of the child as compared to any treatment. The best prophylactic action for GBS is administering intravenous antibiotics to the mother during labor at least 4 hours before delivery. This means that the right time to administer the right drugs is important for effective prevention of GBS infection in the infant.
Contact a lawyer for Medical Malpractice
If the medical staff fail to test for Group B Streptococcus, or fails to order antibiotics to prevent delivery of a GBS infected baby, the newborn may suffer from pneumonia, sepsis and/or meningitis or even death. Contact us if your child suffered lasting birth injury or died as a result prenatal or perinatal infection. The medical malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience in representing such cases. Call 315-479-9000 today. Consultations are always free and you will never owe us anything unless we are able to recover compensation for you.