What Is Group B Strep Disease?
Group B Strep Disease in newborn babies is caused by the Group B Streptococcus bacteria. Twenty-five percent of expecting mothers carry the bacteria. GBS bacteria are naturally occurring in both men and women, particularly within the digestive tract and reproductive systems. Babies can become infected with GBS bacteria before birth, during the first week of life, or up to 6 months following birth.
Signs of Group B Strep Disease
Symptoms of GBS disease often last through the early stages of infancy. GBS disease is the number 1 cause of the development of meningitis (swelling of protective neural membranes) and sepsis (life-threatening inflammatory response to infection) in newborn babies. There are many important signs of a Group B Strep infection depending on the growth stage of the baby.
- Movement of fetus slows or stops completely after 20 weeks. A decrease in fetal movement during the third trimester is extremely abnormal.
- The mother experiences sudden high fevers.
- Newborn is crying excessively. Cries are shrill and inconsolable, with sounds of discomforted frustration.
- Irregular breathing
- Skin appears very pale from lack of oxygen in blood. Patches of redness may appear throughout the skin.
- Skin infections surrounding the umbilical cord or internal fetal monitor in the head
- Abnormal bulge on the top of the head on the fontanel or “soft spot”
- Newborn has trouble eating, is irritable, sleeps excessively, and is difficult to awaken from sleep.
- Low body temperature
- Body appears “lifeless” and demonstrates little movement.
- Newborn isn’t fully present and stares blankly into space.
If any symptoms of Group B Strep disease are apparent during pregnancy or following birth, the situation should not be taken lightly. Symptoms can advance rapidly and put newborn babies in danger of serious health complications.
Baby Annabelle: An American Mother and Child Affected by Group B Strep
Kristie Groff tested positive for Group B Strep while she was expecting her third child, Annabelle. During each of her three pregnancies, Kristie had tested positive for GBS. Prior to delivery, Kristie was administered a single three-hour dose of antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection. On March 6, 2012, Annabelle was born at 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Though mostly normal at birth, baby Annabelle demonstrated signs of GBS disease in the form of a fever. After six hours of nursery evaluations, tests revealed that Annabelle had an aggressive case of sepsis from the GBS infection passed down from her mother.
Fortunately, Annabelle was able to receive top nursing care, and her infected condition stabilized following five days of heavy antibiotic treatment. Since the presence of Group B Strep was detected and treated at birth, Annabelle was able to begin her life being happy and healthy.
There is hope for babies born infected with GBS disease if the condition is handled right away. If not, newborns can lose their lives in a very short amount of time. It is crucial that awareness is spread about Group B Strep so more newborns can begin their lives in the best state of health possible.
July: International Group B Strep Awareness Month
During the month of July, Group B Strep International gathers communities together to support Group B Strep awareness around the world. The “What If We Had Known…?” campaign supports babies infected with GBS through fundraising and GBS education. Supporters can spread the word through social media communities and distribute GBS informational materials available for download on the Group B Strep International website.
Visit the Group B Strep International website today to make a donation and learn more about how to protect expecting mothers and their children from the devastating dangers of Group B Strep.