Infections and Sepsis in Georgia Birth Injuries
When a baby is born, his or her immune system is still developing. That makes babies especially vulnerable to infections. Unfortunately, some Georgia families are left dealing with serious complications and permanent damage caused by those infections. Infection control is an important part of prenatal care, labor and delivery, and neonatal care. The stakes are too high.
Understanding how babies can become sick during delivery
Usually, if a newborn has an infection, the infection was originally in the mother's body and spread to the baby's body. Some infections commonly transmitted from mother to baby include:
- E. coli
- Group B strep (GBS)
- Sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis
- Bacterial vaginosis
Most infections are treatable. If the infection itself cannot be treated, medical interventions can lower the risk of transmission to the baby. During prenatal care, doctors need to test for infections and take immediate steps to treat them in order to protect the mother's health and the baby's health.
The potential complications if an infection is transmitted to the baby
Again, a baby's undeveloped immune system may not be able to fight off an infection, even if the mother's body is able to fight it off with few or no symptoms. That's why doctors need to take steps to prevent infections from being transmitted to the baby. Depending on the circumstances, those steps may include administering certain medications, inducing labor to get the baby out faster (as prolonged labor increases the risk), or even ordering a c-section.
If a baby is born with an infection, doctors need to move quickly to treat it. Often, that means ordering a test - but also starting antibiotics immediately rather than waiting for the test results. Two serious complications can follow if an infection is not treated properly:
Sepsis: This medical term refers to an infection that spreads to the bloodstream. Untreated sepsis can cause septic shock, a potentially fatal complication in which blood pressure drops dangerously low. Septic shock can cause organ failure and permanent damage to the baby's body and brain.
Meningitis: When an infection spreads to the protective membranes that cover the brain or spinal cord, it can cause those membranes to swell, which in turn causes permanent damage. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, this can lead to cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or paralysis.
The role of negligence in infection birth injury cases
Infection management is a critically important part of caring for mother and baby. Doctors know this, and they are expected to follow standards of care in any situation where there is a risk of infection or infection transmission. Unfortunately, some doctors fail to order tests or fail to appropriately intervene when there is an infection risk, and the consequences for the baby can last a lifetime. When that happens, the doctor or hospital can be held liable (legally responsible) for the injury - and the cost of both past and future medical care.
Georgia families who are struggling with a birth injury due to an improperly managed or treated infection have legal rights, and an attorney can help you understand them. If you have any reason to believe medical negligence could have played a role in your child's injury, we recommend scheduling a free consultation with a birth injury lawyer.