Group B Strep infection in babies
Around two thirds of GBS, Strep B, Beta Strep 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 are usually picked up by the maternity team. Early-onset infection 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.
Knowing about Group B Strep and the signs indicating a Strep B infection is vital.
Early-onset Strep B 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 usually 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.
However, early-onset Group B Strep infection is more likely if your baby is born preterm, if you have a temperature while in labour, or if your waters break before going into labour. If your newborn baby develops signs of Group B Strep infection, they should be treated with antibiotics straight away.
1 in 19 babies who develop a Group B Strep infection will die from early-onset GBS infection.
Typical signs of Early–Onset GBS infection include:
Most babies do not develop a GBS infection, but any baby can. Exposure to Strep B 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 BUT with prompt treatment most babies will fully recover.
Make sure that everyone close to you and your baby know about Group B Strep 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.