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Perinatal Group B Strep and Perinatal Infection

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Upstate New York Birth Injury Malpractice Attorneys

For the past twenty years, Group B Streptococcus (GBS) has been implicated as a leading cause of serious perinatal infection. Each year, more than 10,000 newborns in the United States are affected with a manifestation of GBS. These manifestations include infections, pneumonia and meningitis.

Approximately thirty percent (30%) of women are carriers of GBS, which generally colonizes in the bowel. The bacteria are then transferred from the bowel to the genitourinary system, where it can be transferred to a baby during vaginal delivery. Identification of women who have GBS is difficult because the degree of colonization in the vagina can vary. A vaginal culture that is taken during the first trimester of a pregnancy only has a sensitivity of approximately thirty (30%) percent. As a result, a negative first trimester culture does not necessarily rule out a significant GBS colonization at delivery.

On the other hand, cultures taken from the outer third of the vagina and from the perianal area, during the last six weeks of a pregnancy have a sensitivity of greater than 90%.

Because GBS exists in the bowel, it is very difficult to eradicate. As a result, the most effective treatment of GBS for the purpose of reducing transmittal of GBS to the newborn is the administration of an intravenous antibiotic to the mother at least four hours before delivery. Because GBS is highly sensitive to penicillin and there is very little risk of developing penicillin-resistant strains of GBS, penicillin is considered to be the “drug of choice” for the treatment of GBS and is preferred over the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Contact Powers & Santola, LLP., in upstate New York if your child suffered lasting birth injury or died as a result perinatal infection. Our lawyers offer sound legal advice and honest answers in a free consultation.