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Written on 23rd July 2021 by

A recent study (published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health) has found that babies who survive GBS infection are more likely to need special educational support in youth. 

The research found that babies who had invasive GBS infection were twice as likely to have long term developmental impairments and require educational support than those who did not have GBS infection. 

Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support said: “This is important new research showing that many more babies who have recovered from their group B strep infection, including GBS sepsis, have long-term health issues as a result”.

What is Group B Strep?

Group B Streptococcus (also known as group B strep, strep B, beta strep, or “GBS”) is a type of bacteria which lives in the intestines, rectum and vagina of between two to four of every 10 women in the UK. The bacteria is common and during pregnancy it is often harmless to the baby’s mother.

GBS can, however, be harmful to a baby in the newborn (or neonatal) period and around the time of delivery. GBS can cause serious infection in babies and can go on to cause sepsis and meningitis. GBS infection in a baby is a medical emergency and needs to be treated urgently in hospital.

How can GBS infection affect a baby?

With quick treatment, most babies recover from their GBS infection without long term issues.

Around one in every 10 of babies who survive GBS infection, however, go on to develop a long term disability, some of whom will require specialist educational (SEN) support in adolescence, as the Lancet study found. 

For example, around half of those babies who recover from GBS meningitis specifically will experience long-term neurological or physical difficulties (according to statistics taken from Group B Strep Support website). Injuries from GBS meningitis can include:

  • hearing loss
  • balance problems
  • hydrocephalus
  • vision loss
  • epilepsy
  • problems with movement and co-ordination
  • behavioural difficulties
  • memory/concentration difficulties
  • learning difficulties
  • speech and language difficulties.

Some of the difficulties listed above will also affect those babies who have gone on to develop GBS sepsis, as well as other injuries including amputations and organ damage. 

Disability from GBS infection from negligent care

It some circumstances, disability from GBS infection may be unavoidable.  In other cases, however, negligent mistakes are made which result in babies developing GBS infection unnecessarily, or GBS infections are not identified or treated promptly and appropriately.  This can lead to serious injury to the baby.  The injury may not be apparent until some years later, and in some instances not until the child is in school.

How can Boyes Turner help?

Boyes Turner’s birth and neonatal brain injury lawyers are experts at claiming compensation for injuries caused by mistakes in maternity and neonatal care. We understand how GBS infection can cause long term neurological disability. We help children and their families manage the devastating consequences of negligently caused or treated GBS infection by securing compensation to help meet the child’s needs for special education, a suitable home, specialist equipment, therapies and care.

Boyes Turner’s specialist lawyers investigate claims where there are concerns about medical care relating to diagnosis and/or treatment of a GBS infection.  Where we identify allegations of negligence, we work hard to get admissions of liability and secure early interim payments to start making a difference to the child’s life straight away. Interim payments also enable families to access specialist advice relating to the child’s educational needs and help with obtaining the necessary school placement and educational support and provision.

If you are caring for a disabled child and would like to find out more about making a claim, you can talk to one of our specialist solicitors, free and confidentially by contacting us here