Group B Strep Can Threaten Baby During Delivery

Group B Strep is a dangerous bacteria that lives in the digestive tract and the birth canal of as many as one in four pregnant women and can cause permanent handicaps for the baby.

According to GBS International, a group that promotes awareness of Group B Strep, the condition is the most likely cause of infections in newborns.

GBS does not infect every newborn that is exposed and women who carry the bacteria do not carry it consistently. Babies are most likely to become infected with the bacteria as they pass through the birth canal.

GBS can leave a baby with handicaps like deafness, blindness or cerebral palsy, according to GBS International.

Protecting a baby from GBS involves testing. Doctors can do a urine culture for GBS or other bacteria during the first and third trimesters. It is important for pregnant women to see a doctor immediately if they show signs of a vaginal infection. C-section babies are still at risk, according to GBS International, and IV antibiotics before the surgery can help reduce the risks of infection.

If an expectant mother tests positive for GBS during pregnancy, she should be given IV antibiotics for as long as four hours. In half of GBS infection cases, the mother showed no signs of risk factors, according to the Canadian Pediatric Society. This is why testing is an important step during pregnancy.

Symptoms of GBS include vaginal irritation or burning. The bacteria is also likely to give women bladder infections.

Pregnant women in the United States and Canada are tested as a standard of care. Even if a woman tests negative during a pregnancy, GBS International suggests being retested during the third trimester and again for each subsequent pregnancy. In a baby, GBS causes blood infections, sepsis, lung infections or infections in the fluid or the lining around the brain.

In order to reduce the risks to the unborn baby, a mother who has GBS should be given four hours of IV antibiotics before the baby is born. If the baby comes sooner than that, the hospital should observe the baby for 48 hours, according to GBS International. Breastfeeding also may supply a baby the needed antibodies to fight an infection. Everyone in the delivery room should wash their hands immediately before handling the baby, especially when the mother tested positive for GBS.

Most importantly, ask the doctor what needs to be done during every step of pregnancy and delivery if a mother has GBS. Parents of children who have tested positive for GBS should contact a medical malpractice attorney to understand their rights.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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