Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Group B Strep Can Bring About Meningitis In Newborns by Joseph Hernandez

Group B Strep is the major common source of sepsis and meningitis (a severe illness of the fluid of the spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the brain) in infants. Group B Strep is a bacterial infection that may affect a newborn if the mother is is colonized with the bacteria and passes it to her baby during childbirth.

The bacteria normally takes hold in the vagina and/or the lower intestine. It is found in about 1 out of every 4 adult women. However, it often does not cause an active infection or result in symptoms. Passing of the bacteria from expecting mother to the child typically happens in the course of labor and delivery. The baby might be exposed to group b strep, for instance, if the bacteria moves up from the mother's vagina into the uterus after the membranes (bag of water) break. The newborn may likewise be exposed to GBS when passing down through the birth canal. During this time period, the infant can consume or breathe in the bacteria.

About seventy five percent of instances of Group b strep in babies happen during the seven days of life, and the majority appear inside of a few hours following birth. This is called "early onset" group b strep. The rest develop a GBS infection at anytime from one week to several months after delivery. This is called as "late onset" disease. In general, approximately 50% of instances of late onset can be related to the newborn's mother having been colonized with the bacteria. In the other situations of late onset, the origin of the infection is unknown.

After the newborn comes into contact with the bacteria, it can enter the newborn's bloodstream. This can bring about sepsis (overwhelming infection throughout the body), pneumonia, or meningitis. They are all serious illnesses which can advance rapidly and leave the infant with lifelong disabilities or might bring about the baby’s death. Various typical possible disabilities are: brain damage, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and seizures.

The most common symptoms of meningitis include: a high fever, lethargy, unusual irritability, trouble feeding, stiffness, vomiting, and rashes. Because the infection can advance quickly quick treatment is needed to prevent significant harm to the child. For bacterial based meningitis (like that caused by Group B Strep), treatment requires the speedy administration of intravenous IV and antibiotics. A diagnosis of meningitis is established by taking a sample of spinal fluid from a spinal tap and growing the bacteria for proper identification. This is important in order to identify the correct antibiotic for use. The results of the test normally requires several hours. In the time it takes for the results, the infection could cause permanent injury or kill the newborn. Given the immediacy required, treatment normally commences before there is a confirmed diagnosis if meningitis is a possible explanation for the baby's symptoms. Penicillin is the most commonly used treatment.

If a newborn died or suffers from irreversible disabilities that were avoidable except for the failure on the part of a physician to diagnose GBS meningitis or to give immediate treatment that doctor may be liable for malpractice. Parents of children thus injured by GBS meningitis need to consult with a lawyer experienced in birth injury lawsuits without delay because the law permits only a limited amount of time to pursue a birth injury case.