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Meningitis caused by Group B Strep infection in a Newborn

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Cerebral Palsy caused by a delay in diagnosing and treating a Group B Strep infection in a newborn.

So serious are the potential consequences of Group B Strep infections, that every July there is a Group B Strep Awareness Month that “aims to get as many people as possible involved in raising awareness and funds for Group B Strep education and prevention.”

Denise Stephens, a medical negligence partner based in our Thames Valley, Reading Office says:

“As specialist Medical Negligence Solicitors, we want to do our part to promote awareness of this important issue and explain how this type of infection can be catastrophic if not diagnosed and treated at the earliest opportunity. My client, Mrs X, has agreed to share the story of her son, Baby Y’s, Group B Strep infection”.

Baby Y was born on 16 September 2010.  He was slightly premature and so remained in hospital for a few days so that his blood glucose levels could be monitored.

On the 19 September 2010, at three days of age, mum and Baby Y were discharged. Over the next few days Mrs X was visited by midwives and healthcare workers to check on Baby Y’s progress and to ensure that he was feeding well and putting on weight.

Mrs X, like a lot of first-time mums, diligently kept a diary of the length and frequency of Baby Y’s feeds. Which is why, on 29 September 2010, she knew Baby Y had not fed for approximately 10 hours.  Mrs X called her local birth centre and told them about Baby Y’s disinterest in food, she explained that he was grizzly, cold and lethargic. Despite Baby Y’s very concerning symptoms, the birth centre did not ask Mrs X to bring Baby Y in immediately for a check-up. Instead, the birth centre arranged an appointment for the following day.

The next morning, on 30 September 2010, Baby Y had still not fed so, being concerned, Mrs X immediately took him to the local birth centre where he was noted to be cold and grunting. An ambulance was called and Baby Y was taken to the Emergency Department where he was started on IV antibiotics.

A lumbar puncture was performed, and it was later confirmed Baby Y had meningitis caused by a Group B Strep infection.

Tragically, Baby Y went on to develop severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Along with cerebral palsy, Baby Y also suffered from:-

  • Visual impairment
  • Infantile Spasms
  • Reflux
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Slow growth
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Sadly, Baby Y passed away when he was eight years old as a result of complications associated with the severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

The Group B Strep Support Charity website, sets out the symptoms of Group B Strep in newborns and advises that it is vital, if your baby exhibits any of the symptoms below, that they are investigated at the earliest opportunity:

  • Grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seems to be working hard to breathe when you look at the chest or tummy, or not breathing at all.
  • Be very sleepy and/or unresponsive
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Be unusually floppy
  • Not feeding well or not keeping milk down
  • Have a high or low temperature (if parents have a thermometer), and/or be hot or cold to the touch
  • Have changes in their skin colour (including blotchy skin)
  • Have an abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate
  • Have low blood pressure (identified by tests done in hospital)
  • Have low blood sugar (identified by tests done in hospital)

Helen Mackenzie, a senior medical negligence solicitor based in our Thames Valley, Reading Office, specialising in serious neurological injury claims, comments that:

“The circumstances surrounding Baby Y’s illness are a parent’s worst nightmare.  It is so difficult, on occasions, to decide to call and ask for your child to be seen by someone in the medical profession as there is a reluctance to waste their valuable time.  However, when that decision is made, it is important that the parent’s concerns are taken seriously and followed up appropriately to avoid additional injury. Had Baby Y  been seen the day before and received earlier treatment, the outcome may have been very different.”

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