How will group B Strep infection affect my baby?

With prompt treatment, most babies will make a full recovery from their group B Strep infection. However, sadly, even with the best medical care, approximately 1 in 16 of these sick babies will die, and 1 in 11 of the survivors will have long-term physical or mental health issues. Around half of the babies who recover from GBS meningitis will have long-term mental or physical problems and, in about 1 in 8 cases, these will be severe.

There is no evidence that a baby who has recovered from group B Strep infection is more likely to catch other illnesses, such as allergies, coughs, colds, colic etc. but there is little data on this.

Antibiotics given to babies have been linked with allergies as a result of changing the natural bacteria in and on the baby’s body. However, currently there is no evidence of a persisting effect on the microbiome beyond the first six months, and also no evidence suggesting an effect on longer-term health of intravenous penicillin given in labour against GBS disease

Using antibiotics increases the chances of developing bacterial resistance, which is why they are only offered if there is a true risk of infection, or signs of infection, as opposed to “colonisation”.

If you have any concerns about your baby’s medical care or expected long-term outcome, please ask the doctors and nurses caring for your baby.

You may also find our leaflet, After your baby’s group B Strep infection, helpful – click here to download it.