Are Certain Babies More Vulnerable to GBS Disease?

Premature babies, with their less-developed bodies and immune systems, are more vulnerable to GBS infection than older infants. Premature babies infected with GBS are at higher risk for long-term complications and/or death. Since most babies are born full term, however, full term babies account for 70% of the cases of GBS disease in newborns.

The majority (80%) of the cases of GBS disease among newborns occur in the first week of life. This is called early onset disease. Most of these babies are ill within a few hours after birth. Babies who develop early onset disease may have one or more of the following symptoms:

Problems with temperature regulation
Grunting sounds
Breathing problems
Unusual change in behavior
Extreme limpness

GBS disease may also develop in infants one week to several months after birth. This is called late onset disease. Meningitis is more common with late onset GBS disease. About half of late onset GBS disease can be linked to a mother who is colonized with GBS; the source of infection for other babies with late onset GBS disease is unknown. A baby who develops late onset GBS disease may exhibit the following signs:

Stiffness (this could be the entire body or just arms or legs)
Limpness or floppy
Inconsolable screaming
Refusal to feed
Grunting sounds as if difficult breathing
Breathing irregularities
Temperature regulation

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