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Newborn Photographer Hampshire finds out more about Strep B

Newborn Photographer Hampshire finds out more about Strep B as part of focusing on Strep B Awareness month

Newborn Photographer Hampshire

As a newborn photographer, I’ve learnt so many baby facts that I like to share with new mums to be.  After taking newborn photographs for several years, I had never heard of Strep B until my friend/hairdresser’s little girl developed Strep B.  As July is Strep B awareness month, I thought I would raise a little awareness to the mummies who follow me on my website and social media.  Strep B Awareness month aims to bring awareness of Strep B to the public, and in particular mums to be.  It has been a focal point for organisations and individuals to share their stories. 

Like me, I bet most of you aren’t even aware of Strep B, its full title being Group B streptococcal meningitis (GBS) disease (meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia) and it is sadly the main cause of meningitis in babies.  I’ve taken the following facts from the Meningitis Now website:

https://www.meningitisnow.org/meningitis-explained/what-is-meningitis/types-and-causes/group-b-streptococcal-meningitis

Strep B disease is caused by the Streptococcus agalactiae bacteria, which usually live harmlessly in the intestinal tract or vagina. 

  • It’s estimated that 10 – 30% of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria, but most babies born to these mothers will not become ill with Strep B
  • Most people build up natural immunity following carriage and very few adults develop Strep B
  • The majority of Strep B infection occurs in newborn babies as their immune systems have not had time to develop; allowing the bacteria to spread through the blood and cause serious illness such as meningitis, septicaemia or pneumonia

Symptoms of Strep B are:

  • Fever (can also have cold hands and feet)
  • Reluctance to feed
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Irritability/dislike being handled
  • Floppy/difficult to wake/unresponsive
  • Difficulties breathing or grunting
  • Faster or slower than normal breathing rate
  • Pale/blotchy skin
  • Red/purple spots/rash that do not fade under pressure
  • High pitched cry/moaning/whimpering
  • Bulging fontanelle (soft spot)
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Arched back
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Dry nappies

Sarah & Bella’s Story

I asked Sarah whether she was aware of Strep B when she was pregnant.

“I had never heard of Strep B until I was told Bella had it at 8 days old.

Bella was just 6 days old when she became ill.  She wasn’t right but I wasn’t sure why.  She was crying.  I then noticed her left leg hadn’t dropped as much as her right leg.  I phoned the midwives and got told as she was eating and didn’t have a temperature she was fine.  I then tried on day 7 to not touch her left leg and she was like a different baby.  Did cry and would sleep.  I then phoned the midwives again and they said the same.  Day 8 I saw my midwife, who I had seen for the whole nine months and she said straight way to go to hospital.

Once at hospital, they said strep B within two hours.  It then took another week to operate, as antibiotics weren’t working.

I can’t describe how I felt, being told I had passed Strep B onto my baby, I felt it was all my fault and that she could die because of me.  After that it was like let’s just get through this test and see, then right the next step and I couldn’t think more than an hour ahead at a time. 

Bella was left untreated for 8 days, resulting in it putting an infection in her thigh bone and then putting fluid in her knee joint (which turned out to be poison).  She never had a temperature and would eat every three hours like a baby should.

In the first three and a half months of her life she had 

  • 23 days in two different hospitals
  • 2x X-rays
  • 3x ultra sounds
  • 2x MRIs
  • Lumber puncture
  • 1 operation to drain fluid from the knee and flush it out 
  • 1x long line (which when in her ankle up round her heart, to few antibiotics in) 
  • 6x cannula
  • 30x blood test (maybe more, we lost count)
  • 1 week of 3 loads of antibiotics a day 
  • 3 weeks of 1 lot of antibiotics a day 
  • 2 weeks of antibiotics at home 
  • And hospital visits to check she’s still going in the right direction. 

Bella has to go to hospital every year now for an X-ray to check her thigh bone and knee joint as they need to check the bone growth.  This will continue until the doctor is happy to release her.  I don’t even want to think what would have happened if left untreated. 

I found out on day two of being in hospital I was tested for it at the beginning of my labour, but no one checked my results.  Even more frustrating, I had a 26-hour labour, so more than enough time for the antibiotics to have been given before she arrived.

Bella has been amazing, she was walking at nine and a half months and is such a little warrior.  She has surprised us all at how strong she is.”

I got the pleasure to meet this special little girl last Summer when I met up with Sarah, Ella and Olivia at Cams Hall for a location family portrait session. Special moments…

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