Group B Streptococcus, or Group B Strep, is normal flora that lives in the abdomen and genital tract. The bacteria can live in a woman’s vagina without causing any signs or symptoms. It is not a sexually transmitted disease. However, a pregnant woman with Group B Strep, or GBS, can pass the bacteria on to her baby during vaginal delivery and it could lead to sepsis, bacterial meningitis, organ failure or even death of a newborn. It is important that all GBS-positive pregnant women are treated for Group B Strep either prior to or during delivery.
Usually around 37 weeks gestation, a pregnant mother will have a vaginal swab or culture performed to see if she is a carrier of GBS. If a mother is positive for Group B Strep, antibiotics will be administered at the time of labor. If a pregnant woman goes into premature labor prior to any cultures being performed, prophylactic antibiotics may be given due to the unknown GBS infection status. If a baby is born before the proper antibiotics can be given to the mother, her baby may receive IV antibiotics after birth, especially if he/she shows signs and symptoms of a Group B Streptococcus infection. An infant who is born with an untreated Group B Strep infection can go on to develop meningitis, seizures, sepsis, cerebral palsy or death.
If your child has cerebral palsy or permanent brain damage as a result of an improperly treated Group B strep infection, you may want to speak with a medical malpractice birth injury lawyer or cerebral palsy attorney for more information.