International Group B Awareness Month


Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a significant cause of babies worldwide being stillborn, being born prematurely, becoming sick and having lifelong health challenges.

GBS is a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal system, or gut, and the urogenital system, including the urethra and vagina. The bacterium is usually harmless in healthy adults. In newborns, however, it can cause a serious illness known as group B strep disease.

Sadly, approximately one in every 16 babies who develop group B Strep infection during their first 3 months die, and around one in every 10 of the survivors have a long-term disability.

There are two types of GBS disease in babies: 

  • Early-onset disease (EOGBS) which happens during the first week of life. Babies often have symptoms within 24 hours of birth. 
  • Late-onset disease (LOGBS) which develops weeks to months after birth. This type of GBS disease is not well understood.  

Newborns and infants with GBS disease might show these signs: 

  • a fever 
  • irritability or fussiness 
  • abnormal breathing sounds, such as ‘grunting’ with each breath out 
  • difficulty breathing or breathing too fast or slow 
  • sleepiness and not interested in feeding
  • vomiting 
  • having trouble keeping their temperature at the right level (being too hot or too cold) 
  • looking pale or blotchy 
  • floppy arms and legs

If you notice any of these signs in hospital or at home, it is important that you contact your healthcare provider straight away. 

Our Nurture E Information Hub is a great resource to assist you and your family through different life stages of your growing and developing child beyond the baby, infant and toddler years. To find out more information about Group B Streptococcus, click HERE.

The Experience:

Miracle Mum, Philippa is a Miracle Babies NurtureProgram Information Coordinator and Consumer Representative in WA. Philippa is a mum to three children, two of which have spent time in either a SCN or NICU. Her son Tristan was born at 37 weeks with Strep B and spent a short time in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital SCN.

"Tristan was born 37 weeks via c-section at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Queensland in April 2013. They first noticed that he was having trouble breathing due to fluid on his lungs. He also had a very high temperature.

He was whisked away to the Special Care Unit and put on oxygen in an incubator. They took some bloods, and they came back showing that he had contracted Group Strep B and we were both put on IV antibiotics. It is extremely rare to be diagnosed with Strep B when birthed by a cesarean. I was not tested during pregnancy but after one week in SCN, we were discharged home.

Tristan then went on to have Late-onset disease (LOGBS) which develops weeks to months after birth. At 6 weeks of age, Tristan was diagnosed with GBS Meningitis which is an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain. Meningitis is more common with late-onset GBS disease and, in some cases, can lead to hearing loss, vision loss, learning disabilities, seizures, and even death.

Tristan is now 10 years old, and has vision loss, ADHD, Epilepsy, Hypermobility and learning disabilities. He has also been diagnosed with an Immune Deficiency as he has recurrent Bacterial Infections.

He receives Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Tutoring by a Dyslexia specialist. His favourite things are Camping with his family, playing Four Square and Soccer and doing Math’s".