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What are the symptoms of group B streptococcus infection in newborn babies?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Most babies who get early-onset infection become ill within the first few hours of their life.

Early-onset infection

Some signs and symptoms of early infection in newborn babies are: [2] [12] [13]

  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing (in most babies this is the first symptom that appears)

  • A high temperature (fever)

  • A low temperature (less than 35.5°C or 95.5°F)

  • Grunting

  • Difficulty feeding or not wanting to feed

  • Being floppy, limp, and hard to wake up

  • Low blood pressure

  • Low blood sugar

  • Jaundice in the first 48 hours after life (in jaundice, the skin and the whites of your baby's eyes get a yellow tinge; after 48 hours a little bit of jaundice is common and normal)

  • Mottled-looking skin.

Late-onset infections

Late-onset infections happen between seven days and two months after birth. But most babies become ill in the first month. [12]

Some signs and symptoms of late infection in newborn babies are:

  • A high temperature

  • Being floppy, limp, and hard to wake up

  • Difficulty feeding or not wanting to feed

  • Rapid breathing [12]

  • Being difficult to settle and irritable.

Babies who get a late-onset infection are less likely to have difficulty breathing. But they're much more likely to have an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain (known as meningitis).

It's very important that you get medical help straight away if you think that your baby's unwell. Group B streptococcus infection is serious, and your baby may become very ill very quickly. [13] [14]



You get an infection when bacteria, a fungus, or a virus get into a part of your body where it shouldn't be. For example, an infection in your nose and airways causes the common cold. An infection in your skin can cause rashes such as athlete's foot. The organisms that cause infections are so tiny that you can't see them without a microscope.


Meningitis is a swelling in the thin layers of tissue that surround your brain and your spinal cord. It usually happens because of an infection with certain kinds of bacteria or viruses. Meningitis can give you a severe headache and a stiff neck. And you may find it difficult to keep your eyes open in the light. Meningitis is a life-threatening disease. If you have these symptoms, you should go to hospital straight away.

For more terms related to Infection in newborn babies (group B streptococcus)


For references related to Infection in newborn babies (group B streptococcus) click here.
Last Updated: July 17, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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