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Late-Onset Group B Strep Infection
As most families who have been affected by group B Strep will be aware, the usual pattern is where the baby develops an infection after picking up the bacteria from the mother around birth. Certain factors such as a lengthier period between rupture of the membranes and the birth increase the likelihood of this happening and so those concerned with protecting new-born babies from Strep B are able to focus on risk factors in the hope of minimising the possibility of infection.
Although not as commonplace, late-onset Group B Streptococcus (LOGBS) remains a significant threat to babies. This is where the problem arises after the first 6 days of life and where, crucially, the source of the bacteria causing the infection is less clear – GBS is carried by a great many people any of whom could have passed the bacteria to the child. There are a number of factors which increase the likelihood of a baby developing LOGBS infection. One which has been recognised for some years is when the baby was born preterm since they have not built up the body’s natural defences to infections as much as a child born at or near full term and so remain vulnerable after the first 7 days. Sadly, at the moment there are no known ways of preventing LOGBS infection.
It is heartening to learn of a research survey being initiated by Group B Strep Support to look into the long-term impact of LOGBS infections on both the babies and their families. To date, there has been little research investigating the impact of LOGBS infection, and this will help health professionals better understand how to support an infected baby and their family. I have handled legal claims where Strep B infection only developed after 2 months and in one case, 4 months, when parents and clinicians would not necessarily consider GBS to be a cause of sudden ill-health.
I very much hope the Group B Strep Support initiative helps to identify ways better to support these children and their families, whose infection may not be typical but can often be just as devastating as the early-onset equivalent.
If you require any advice regarding a matter similar to this, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our medical negligence solicitors in Exeter.