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Symptoms and Complications

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Español: Síntomas y complicaciones


The symptoms of group B strep disease can seem like other health problems in newborns and babies. Most newborns with early-onset disease (occurs in babies younger than 1 week old) have symptoms on the day of birth. Babies who develop late-onset disease may appear healthy at birth and develop symptoms of group B strep disease after the first week through the first three months of life.

Some symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Irritability or lethargy (limpness or hard to wake up the baby)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue-ish color to skin


For both early- and late-onset group B strep disease, and particularly for babies who had meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord), there may be long-term problems such as deafness and developmental disabilities. Care for sick babies has improved a lot in the United States. However, 2 to 3 out of every 50 babies (4 to 6%) who develop group B strep disease will die.

On average, about 1,000 babies in the United States get early-onset group B strep disease each year (see ABCs website for more surveillance information), with rates higher among prematurely born babies (born before 37 weeks) and blacks. Group B strep bacteria may also cause some miscarriages, stillbirths, and preterm deliveries. However, there are many different factors that lead to stillbirth, pre-term delivery, or miscarriage and, most of the time, the cause is not known.

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