At Higgins Hollywood Deazley we understand that Group B Strep is the most common cause of severe infection in newborn babies and can cause sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. Furthermore, we recognise the devastating impact this condition can have on both parents and babies. We have acted for a number of mothers and children who have been affected by Group B Strep. We recognise that having a baby who develops Group B Strep infection is unexpected and traumatic. If the medical care and treatment of a mother or a baby in respect of Group B Strep fell below an acceptable and reasonable standard causing mother and/or baby to suffer injury, harm or loss then they can proceed to investigate a claim for medical negligence and they may be able to claim for compensation.

What is Group B Strep (GBS)?

Group B Streptococcus (Group B Strep, Strep B, Beta Strep, or GBS) is a type of bacteria which lives in the intestines, rectum and vagina of around 20 to 40% of women in the UK which is often referred to as ‘carrying’ or being ‘colonised with’ GBS.

GBS usually causes no harm but it can affect babies around the time of birth.

Group B Strep in pregnancy

Testing for GBS is not routinely offered to all pregnant women in the UK

If you carry GBS, most of the time your baby will be born safely and will not develop an infection. However, it can rarely cause serious infection in newborn babies.

If GBS is detected during your pregnancy, or if you have previously had a baby affected by GBS infection, you should be offered antibiotics in labour to reduce the risk of this infection to your baby.

The risk of your baby becoming unwell with GBS infection is increased if your baby is born preterm, if you have a temperature while you are in labour, or if your waters break before you go into labour

If your newborn baby develops signs of GBS infection, they should be treated with immediate antibiotics.

Most early-onset GBS infections can be prevented. Approximately one in every 1,000 babies born each year in the UK develops group B Strep infection.

Symptoms of GBS in babies

In the UK, up to two-thirds of GBS infection in babies are of early onset (showing within the first 6 days of life) Early-onset GBS infections are usually apparent at or soon after birth, with the typical signs including:

  • Grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seems to be working hard to breathe when you look at the chest or tummy, or not breathing at all
  • Very sleepy and/or unresponsive
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Unusually floppy
  • Not feeding well or not keeping milk down
  • High or low temperature and/or be hot or cold to the touch
  • Changes in their skin colour (including blotchy skin)
  • Abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar

Treating GBS infection in babies

GBS infection requires immediate with intravenous antibiotics.

Prevalence of GBS in pregnancy and newborns in UK

Sadly, approximately one out of every 16 infected babies will die from their GBS infection.

Most babies will make a full recovery from their Group B Strep infection. Sadly, approximately one out of every 16 babies who develop group B Strep infection will die from their Group B Strep infection and around one in every 10 of the survivors have a long-term disability.

If you or your child has been affected by Group B strep in pregnancy, please get in touch with our specialist medical negligence team. We will deal with your case in a sensitive and confidential manner and we have over 25 years’ experience dealing with medical claims and have settled the largest medical negligence case in NI.

LAUREN JONES     laurenjones@hhdsolicitors.com