Group B Strep Injury Attorney in Washington DC
What Is Group B Streptococcus?
Group B Streptococcus – commonly called Group B Strep or GBS – is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the urinary, digestive and reproductive tracts. Not everyone with GBS becomes ill. However, if a pregnant woman carries the bacteria, the risk that she will pass it to her child during labor and delivery can be a serious concern. If you find yourself in this or a similar situation, you need the help of an experienced Washington D.C. Birth injury lawyer, today.
Many people carry Group B Streptococcus without showing any signs or symptoms. In other words, they are “colonized” with the bacteria. The CDC reports that approximately 25 percent of pregnant women carry GBS. The bacteria may cause illness in both adults and newborns, including:
- Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
- Sepsis (inflammation triggered by a bloodstream infection)
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Meningitis (infection in the tissue which covers the brain and spinal cord)
- Skin and soft tissue infection
- Bone and joint infection.
For many newborns, GBS disease can result in permanent harm, including brain damage and subsequent learning disabilities, hearing and/or vision loss and cerebral palsy. In some cases, the GBS infection is fatal. These diseases fall into two general categories:
- Early-onset – The disease arises within the first week after the child’s birth – typically within 24 to 48 hours, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In these cases, the infection likely developed as the child passed through the mother’s birth canal.
- Late-onset – This disease can occur anywhere between one week to three months after the child’s birth. In these cases, a mother carrying GBS may have passed the bacteria to the child during labor and delivery, or the child may have become infected due to contact with some other source.
Additionally, if a pregnant woman is infected with GBS, it increases the risk of a pre-term delivery, stillbirth or miscarriage.
How Group B Strep (GBS) Infections Affects Newborns
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only around 1 in 200 babies who are born to women with GBS will suffer illness. However, if a GBS infection occurs in a newborn, the long-term effect on the child’s health could be devastating. Between 4 to 6 percent of newborns with GBS disease die each year, according to the CDC.
If your child suffers from a GBS infection, you should immediately consult with an experienced birth injury attorney. The attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and determine whether the disease could have been prevented through timely testing and proper administration of antibiotics. If so, the attorney can help you to pursue just compensation for the harm that your child and your family has needlessly suffered.
To learn more about your rights, contact The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates today and receive a free consultation. Dr. Wilson can bring a unique combination of medical and legal knowledge to your case and a record that includes more than $100 million recovered on behalf of clients in Washington, D.C., Maryland and throughout the country.
What Are Signs and Symptoms of a Group B Strep Infection?
It is critical for doctors to test for the presence of GBS in pregnant women in order to prevent early-onset disease in newborns. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association reports that GBS testing has become a “routine part of prenatal care” in our country. This is true even if the mother plans to give birth through a cesarean section, or C-section, due to the risk that the mother will go into labor earlier than expected.
Doctors should also monitor newborns for GBS disease, especially if any of the following risk factors are present:
- The mother previously gave birth to a child who suffered from early-onset GBS disease.
- The mother developed a fever during labor.
- A long period of time passed – 18 or more hours – between the amniotic sac rupture (water breaking) and delivery of the child.
- The mother tested positive for GBS late in the pregnancy (around the 35th or 37th week).
- During pregnancy, GBS was detected in the mother’s urine.
- An early or “preterm” delivery occurred (before the 37th week).
The CDC reports that the following signs may indicate that a baby has developed GBS disease:
- Difficulty with feeding
- Irritability or general lethargy (weakness or limpness)
- Breathing troubles
- Blue or ashy-colored skin tone.
Most newborns who develop early-onset GBS disease have noticeable symptoms on the day they are born. Babies who suffer from late-onset GBS may develop symptoms within a few weeks after birth. If you observe any of these symptoms in your newborn, you should seek medical attention for the child as soon as possible.
How Can Doctors Prevent GBS Infections in Newborns?
As we stated above, one of the most challenging aspects of GBS is that many women show no symptoms that would lead them to suspect that they carry the bacteria. They may suffer no sickness or show any physical manifestations. For this reason, proper testing of women during their pregnancy is critical for prevention of GBS disease in newborns.
According to the ACOG, women should be tested for GBS late in their pregnancy – typically, between weeks 35 and 37. The test consists of using a swab to take a sample from the woman’s vagina or rectum. The sample is then sent to a lab to see if the bacteria grows.
If the woman tests positive for GBS, doctors can prevent the bacteria from being passed to the child by giving an antibiotic to the mother through an IV. Doctors typically administer penicillin. If the mother is allergic to penicillin, a doctor may use an alternative such as cefazolin, according to the ACOG.
Timely administration of the antibiotic is important. Because of the risk that the bacteria may regrow, giving an antibiotic to a pregnant woman too early in the pregnancy may ultimately prove to be ineffective. Additionally, a doctor must administer the antibiotic before delivery occurs.
If a doctor suspects that a newborn suffers from GBS infection, the doctor can test the child by getting a sample of the child’s blood or spinal fluid and/or ordering a chest X-ray. If the child tests positive for GBS, the doctor may administer antibiotics through an IV or order more aggressive treatment.
How Can a Medical Malpractice Law Firm Help You?
Many newborns suffer from early-onset and late-onset GBS disease due to the negligence of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. For instance, a child may suffer GBS disease due to a doctor’s failure to:
- Properly check the mother’s medical history and discover that, previously, she had given birth to a child with GBS
- Order timely testing of the mother for the presence of GBS
- Properly conduct the test and interpret test results
- Timely administer an antibiotic such as penicillin
- Monitor the newborn for signs and symptoms of GBS disease.
If you believe that your child has suffered harm due to medical malpractice, contact The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates without delay. We can launch an immediate investigation into your case, including gathering and analyzing all relevant medical records. As both a doctor and a lawyer, Dr. Wilson will know how to determine what went wrong during pregnancy, labor, delivery and/or the aftermath of your child’s birth. He can also identify all parties who should be held responsible for the harm that your child and your family have suffered.
Our law firm prepares every case as if it is going to trial. That high level of preparation gives us leverage as we pursue settlements on our clients’ behalf, and it allows us to present the strongest case possible in the courtroom if a trial is ultimately necessary. Through the years, we have recovered in excess of $100 million on behalf of our clients.
Contact an Experienced Birth Injury Lawyer, Today
Unfortunately, when medical malpractice causes a child to suffer a birth injury such as GBS disease, doctors and hospitals will be evasive. It takes an aggressive birth injury law firm such as The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates to force medical professionals and institutions to take responsibility for their mistakes and provide the compensation that malpractice victims and their loved ones are due.
Dr. Wilson can bring a unique blend of medical and legal knowledge to your case. If you suspect that your child suffered harmed due to a preventable GBS infection, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you in a free and confidential consultation. We represent our clients on a contingency fee basis. So, you will pay no costs or fees unless we secure a financial recovery for you.