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About 20-40% of women have a GBS infection that can cause serious illness and even death in newborns. An infection may also result in the death of the mother if the infection leads to sepsis.
There are no physical symptoms of a GBS infection. As such, most people who are infected have no idea. What makes this so dangerous is that a pregnant woman with GBS can transfer the bacteria to her newborn during birth. This puts exposed babies at risk for developing cerebral palsy, meningitis, pneumonia, hearing and vision loss, and brain damage.
Most health women carry GBS in their bodies. Remember, it occurs naturally in the gut. As such, women may carry the infection for just a short period of time. Or she may have the infection most of her life. In newborn babies, infection can be transmitted through direct contact with GBS in the uterus. However, in most cases, babies contract it during delivery via the birth canal. When a GBS infection is present in the mother, the child has a 50-50 chance of becoming infected through vaginal birth.
There are certain risk factors that increase a mother’s chances of transmitting GBS to her newborn. These include:
Women with GBS do not typically exhibit physical signs or symptoms of infection. However, in newborns, early stages of GBS infection may come with pneumonia or difficulty breathing. Late GBS infection may be accompanied by meningitis and septicemia. Once symptoms like these present themselves, the condition can be hard to treat.
In newborns, symptoms of GBS often present themselves within the first 24 hours. However, late-onset GBS can take weeks to surface in an otherwise healthy baby. The signs of GBS infection in newborns include:
As women infected with GBS typically display no physical signs or symptoms, and since the danger to newborns is serious, it is standard procedure that all mothers-to-be are tested for GBS during their third trimester. The doctor performs the test by taking a simple swab sample from the woman’s vagina and rectum. The swab is then tested in a lab. If the swab tests positive for GBS infection, steps must be taken to protect the child.
If a doctor suspects the child may have a GBS infection, they will require a sample of the baby’s spinal fluid and or blood for lab testing. It can take several days to get accurate results.
When a woman tests positive for GBS, the physician must have a plan to minimize the baby’s risk of infection during birth. One common precaution is to administer antibiotics to the mother during labor. This is often recommended for:
Penicillin is the preferred medication in these scenarios. However, ampicillin is an viable alternative.
While antibiotics and other preventative measures may help lower a baby’s risk of contracting a GBS infection, all babies born to GBS-positive mothers must be carefully monitored to spot the earliest signs of a problem.
Delivery method (C-section versus vaginal) does not typically affect how a doctor will proceed with regards to antibiotic treatment of GBS infection. What is most important is whether the baby is exposed to the bacteria. In general, if the water remains intact, the baby is not exposed to the bacteria. Conversely, if it is broken, the baby is often exposed. The goal of antibiotics is to eradicate the bacteria in the vagina, with the hopes of a protective effect carrying over to the baby.
When a doctor identifies risk factors for GBS, it is imperative that he or she monitor mother and baby very closely. They must also follow all guidelines and medical standards of care for treatment and prevention of GBS infection.
It is negligence when mother and baby are not properly tested for GBS, and/or when standards for treatment are not followed. If GBS infection is not diagnosed and treated promptly, serious complications can occur. These can include seizures, cerebral palsy, sepsis, blindness, intellectual and developmental disorders, hearing loss, delayed speech, or even death. This may constitute medical malpractice.
If your child experienced a birth injury resulting from mishandling of a maternal infection, the team at Willens Law Offices can help.
We have helped the families of children across Illinois get the compensation they need for a secure future. We strive to give the utmost personal attention to each child and family we represent.
Our nationally recognized birth injury firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that speak to our success and experience. You will not pay our firm unless we win or settle your case.
Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166 for a free case evaluation. Our firm’s expert team are available to you whenever you need them, 24/7.
The plaintiff went to a Chicago hospital for delivery of twins via cesarean section. In the delivery room, a suspicious rash was recognized on one of the twins and later, fecal and urine cultures confirmed the presence of candida. She was started on prophylactic anti-fungal medicine and is healthy. The other twin was clear of any rash and though she was at risk for fungal infection, she was not treated in a timely manner. Later, a head ultrasound and MRI confirmed the diagnosis and damage to her brain. A lawsuit was filed on the plaintiff’s behalf. The case was vigorously defended by lawyers for the physician and the hospital that he worked for over 3 years. Eventually, a mediation took place at which time the defendants offered $3,000,000 to settle, which the plaintiff rejected. It was not until trial that the case settled for $10,000,000.
Birth injury cases are among the most complicated medical malpractice cases to litigate. With years of experience in birth trauma litigation our legal team has the skills, the resources and experience necessary to address and win a wide variety of birth injury cases. Our legal team has secured millions of dollars in compensation for birth injury victims.
With decades of hands-on experience working with top healthcare professionals in labor and delivery, our legal team has access to some of the top medical professionals in the world. As in many types of medical malpractice cases, high quality expert are essential in obtaining justice.
Our firm was established to focus on the unique needs of our clients. We work with top medical, life-planning, and forensics experts to determine the causes and extent of injuries, prognoses of victims, and areas of medical negligence. Our passion for helping birth injury victims allows our attorneys to deliver unrivaled legal services for your family.
Willens Law Offices have helped the families of children across Illinois get the compensation they need for a secure future.
We strive to give the utmost personal attention to each child and family we represent.