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Let's be Group B Strep aware
It’s Group B Strep Awareness month and we’re helping to raise awareness of group B Strep infection.
What is Group B Strep?
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is normal bacterium most commonly found in the intestines. It is usually harmless.
Why do we need to raise awareness?
GBS bacteria can quickly spread through a newborn baby’s body. This can lead to serious infections such as sepsis and meningitis.
We’re joining Group B Strep Support (GBSS) to raise as much awareness as we can so that babies do not suffer long term damage as a result of GBS infection, as well as supporting families affected.
As with many illnesses, early diagnosis and treatment of GBS infection is vital.
Symptoms of GBS infection
There are two types of GBS disease: early and late-onset. Early onset infection usually occurs in the first six days of life and typically presents as septicaemia with pneumonia. Late-onset GBS disease, which usually presents as GBS meningitis, occurs after around six days.
The symptoms of early onset strep B infection include:
- poor feeding
- very high or low heart rate
- low blood pressure
- low blood sugar
- abnormal temperature
- abnormal breathing rates with blueness of the skin due to lack of oxygen
The symptoms of late onset strep B infection include:
- Being irritable with high pitched or whimpering cry, or moaning
- Blank, staring or trance-like expression
- May dislike being handled
- Turns away from bright light
- Involuntary stiff body or jerking movements
- Pale, blotchy skin
Most babies diagnosed with GBS infection can be treated with antibiotics and will not experience long term damage. For some babies however, there can be permanent injury such as brain damage or amputation. This can be as a result of a delay in diagnosis and/or treatment.
If a baby shows signs consistent with early or late GBS infection, call your doctor immediately. If your doctor isn’t available, go straight to your nearest A&E Department. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital.
Can GBS infection be prevented?
Group B Strep carriage can be tested for, but it is not routinely tested for on the NHS. If GBS is detected during the current pregnancy, you should be offered antibiotics in labour to prevent infection developing in the baby. The GBSS website has lots of helpful information about GBS and risk factors in pregnancy – click here.
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