Can GBS cause birth injuries?

Yes. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is type of bacterium found in the genital tract and gut that can cause illness in people of all ages, including babies.  If GBS in a pregnant woman is left untreated or is treated improperly, it can cause life-threatening problems in the baby, including pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis. These infections can lead to lifelong disabilities such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy (CP), and seizure disorders.  Since GBS can cause severe injury in a baby, and since 25% of all pregnant women have GBS infection, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women be tested for GBS between weeks 35 – 37 of pregnancy. Women can test positive for GBS at certain times and not others, so women tested prior to week 35 should be tested again between weeks 35 and 37.

Group B Streptococcus Can Cause Serious Health Problems In BabiesCan GBS cause birth injuries?

On average, about 1,200 babies in the U.S. less than one week old get early-onset GBS each year, with a higher prevalence in the African-American population. Approximately 4-6% of these babies die. GBS can also cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and preterm deliveries. Babies who survive a GBS infection may develop permanent deafness, cerebral palsy, intellectual and developmental disabilities, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and more.

Management of GBS

GBS in a baby, also known as baby strep, can have devastating consequences. However, it can easily be managed with antibiotics such as penicillin and ampicillin, which minimize the baby’s exposure to infection during the birthing process and help the baby fight possible infection.  

Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for:

  • Women who delivered a previous infant with GBS infection
  • Women with GBS bacteriuria (bacteria in urine) in the current pregnancy
  • Women with a GBS-positive screening result in the current pregnancy
  • Women with unknown GBS status who deliver at less than 37 weeks’ gestation, have an intrapartum temperature of 38º C (100.4º F) or greater, or have rupture of membranes for 18 hours or longer.

Generally, the type of birth (C-section versus vaginal delivery) does not affect how a physician will proceed with regards to GBS prophylactic treatment. What is most important is whether the baby is exposed to the bacteria and how best to protect the baby from possible infection. If the water remains intact, the baby is not exposed to the bacteria. If the water is broken, the baby is exposed.

While antibiotics and other preventative measures significantly reduce a baby’s chance of contracting GBS, all newborns born to mothers who are GBS carriers should be carefully monitored to identify the earliest manifestations of the infection. If they begin to show signs of GBS, they should be given antibiotics.

When risk factors for GBS infection are present, it is essential that the physicians monitor the mother and baby very closely and follow guidelines and medical standards of care for prevention and treatment of GBS. It is negligence when a mother and baby are not properly tested for GBS, and when standards for treating the condition are not followed. If this negligence causes harm, it constitutes medical malpractice.

Award-Winning Detroit, Michigan Birth Injury AttorneysBirth Injury Law | Reiter & Walsh, PC

If your baby had GBS and now has a birth injury such as HIE, CP, or a seizure disorder, the attorneys at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy, and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success and no fees are ever paid to our firm ­until we win your case. Please reach out today for a free case evaluation.

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