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Group B Streptococcus in Pregnancy & Newborn Babies

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria which is commonly carried in the vagina and/or rectum of up to 40% of women in the UK.

It is not harmful to women and most women will not have any symptoms. However, it can cause serious infection, including sepsis, pneumonia or meningitis, in newborn babies if passed to the baby during a vaginal delivery. Sadly, GBS infection can even be fatal for a newborn baby.

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How can Group B Streptococcus infections be avoided?

Many babies who come into contact with GBS during labour will not become ill and fortunately, most GBS infections can be avoided.

If GBS is found in your urine, vagina or rectum during your pregnancy, of if you have previously had a baby affected by GBS infection, you should be offered antibiotics whilst in labour, usually through a drip, to reduce the risks to your baby. If these antibiotics were not offered, then you may have a claim for compensation.

The risk to your baby is increased if your baby is premature, if you have a temperature during labour or if your waters have broken.

Alternatively, the risk can be avoided if you deliver your baby by way of a caesarean section taking place prior to your waters breaking.

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What are the signs of GBS infection in a newborn?

Signs of GBS infection may include grunting or difficulty breathing, drowsiness, inconsolable crying, floppiness, difficulty feeding, abnormal temperature, changes in skin colour or an abnormal heart rate.

If you have any concerns at all about your newborn baby, you should seek urgent medical advice.

What happens if your newborn baby shows signs of GBS infection?

If your newborn baby shows signs of GBS infection, they should be immediately treated with antibiotics. With prompt treatment, most babies will make a full recovery. Sadly however, of the babies who develop GBS infection, around 5% will not survive and approximately 7% will have a long-term disability.

Have you or a loved one suffered from the effects of GBS infection?

If so, we may be able to help if the necessary precautions and correct treatment was not offered.

Please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialised team members today for free advice regarding whether you may have a potential medical negligence claim on 01244 354 688.

Our Clinical Negligence Team benefits from in-house medical knowledge from our Head of Department, Linda Schermer-Jones, who is dual qualified doctor and solicitor. We therefore have the ability to quickly and efficiently assess any areas of potential negligence you, or a loved one, may have suffered.

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