Group B Strep infection in babies
Around two thirds of GBS infections are early-onset and occur within the first 6 days of a baby’s life. Most infections are visible at birth or within the first 12 hours so usually picked up by the maternity team. Early onset usually presents as some or all of the following signs:
- grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seeming to be working hard to breathe when you look at their chest or tummy or not breathing at all
- very sleepy and/or unresponsive
- crying inconsolably
- unusually floppy
- not feeding well or not keeping milk down
- have a high or low temperature and/or their skin feels too hot or cold
- have changes in their skin colour (including blotchy skin)
- have an abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate
- have low blood pressure*
- have low blood sugar*
*Identified by tests done in hospital.
Testing to know if you are a carrier of Group B Strep (GBS) is important.
It gives you choices during labour. Most babies do not develop a GBS infection but when they do it can cause severe and life-threatening illness and sometimes long-term health issues. Giving Intravenous (IV) antibiotics during labour to mothers carrying GBS greatly reduces the risk of babies developing a Group B Strep infection.
Knowing about Group B Strep and the signs indicating a GBS infection is vital.
Early- onset GBS infection can manifest in the first 6 days of a baby’s life as Sepsis, Meningitis and Pneumonia. Most infections are visible at birth or within the first 12 hours so picked up by the maternity team. Most early – onset GBS infections are preventable with antibiotics being given during labour.
Typical signs of Early – onset GBS infection include:
Late-onset GBS infection occurs between 7 days and 3 months. it is uncommon after 1 month and very rare after 3 months. However, a third of GBS infections are late-onset infections which usually show as meningitis with sepsis.
Typical signs of Late-onset GBS infection are like those of Early-onset GBS infection but can also include:
Most babies do not develop a GBS infection, but some do. Exposure to GBS can be by a variety of sources after birth, not just from the mother. Babies that do develop a GBS infection can become very ill very quickly. There are no known ways of preventing Late-onset GBS infections, so it is vital that new mothers, fathers and all family and friends know the signs to enable a quick identification, early diagnosis, and speedy treatment.
Make sure that everyone close to you and your baby know about GBS and the signs of infection
Contact your healthcare team QUICKLY if you notice any signs and are concerned about your baby. Make sure you mention GBS particularly if you know you are a GBS carrier.
EARLY DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT IS VITAL. DELAY CAN BE SERIOUS, EVEN FATAL