A TERRIFIED mum has told how she feared her baby wouldn’t survive after he was suddenly struck down by a deadly infection just hours after being born.
Kimberley Wiggins and her husband were thrilled when they welcomed their first child Frank into the world.
But just before he was due to be discharged home from hospital he fell ill with terrifying speed — and within the space of an hour was left fighting for his life.
Against all the odds, he miraculously pulled through and now his mum is working to raise awareness of Group B Streptococcus — also known as GBS or Group B Strep — the infection which nearly claimed her son’s life.
The 23-year-old says the condition is the most common cause of severe infection such as meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia in newborns, but the NHS does not currently offer a national screening programme.
Kimberley, from Port Glasgow, said: “Within the space of an hour my whole world was turned upside down, as I was just about to be discharged home from hospital when Frank became unwell.
“It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
“It was such a shock — he was rushed away by the doctors and was put into an incubator.
“It scared the life out of me and I thought we were going to lose him.
“Thankfully Frank recovered but what really scared me was that if I’d been at home when this happened then he wouldn’t be here.”
Kimberley had sailed through her pregnancy apart from suffering from discomfort at 17 weeks.
She explained: “I went to hospital after having some pains and they tested me for infections but I never heard anything back from that so I assumed everything was fine.”
She says it wasn’t until she went into labour that she learned she had tested positive for Group B Strep.
Most pregnant women who carry Group B strep bacteria have healthy babies however there’s a small risk that it can pass to the baby during childbirth.
Sometimes the infection in newborns can cause serious complications that can be life threatening. To reduce the risk of infection, mothers of high-risk babies are offered antibiotics during labour.
Kimberley added: “I was in labour for 13 hours before I went to the hospital.
“When I got there, they asked me if I was Group B Strep.
“I didn’t know what that was so I said ‘not that I’m aware of’.
“They told me that I would have been told if I was.
“But the next morning, the doctor informed me that my hospital records showed that I was Group B Strep and that due to human error that information was not passed onto my midwife and was not part of my hand held notes.”
After 46 hours in labour, Kimberley finally gave birth to Frank on October 10, 2013.
She said: “He weighed eight pounds so he was a healthy weight and everything was fine.
“I was just about ready to be discharged from hospital when I noticed that Frank was quite hot, but I had been breast feeding so I thought because I was quite warm then maybe that was why he was so hot.
“When the doctor came round to discharge us they noticed that Frank’s temperature had shot up to about 42 and his breathing rate increased to double what it should have been.
“Within minutes my son was fighting for his life.
“He’d dropped from eight pounds to six pounds.
“We had to wait for an hour for news, it was the longest hour of my life.”
When Kimberley and her husband Frank finally got to see their son, they got a shock.
She added: “When we went in Frank was stripped down to just his nappy and in an incubator.
“Through the glass window we could see there was a big X-ray machine over him and nurses and doctors all round him.
“It scared the life out of me – I thought we were going to lose him.”
Frank spent two days in an incubator and more time in a normal cot in the neonatal ward and was also given continual blood and antibiotics tests.
His temperature eventually improved and after his breathing rate got back to normal he was allowed home.
Kimberley, who has since given birth to another bundle of joy, Archie, pictured, with brother Frank, Kimberley and Frank snr, believes that her experience shows that not enough healthcare professionals know enough about Group B Strep.
She told the Tele: “At the time I was very upset about what happened, but I would rather be pro-active in raising awareness of it.
“I was given antibiotics six hours before Frank was born, which was too late for them to have any effect.
“I should have been given them sooner.
“I met all the criteria to be given antibiotics as I had a fever, was diagnosed with Group B Strep and my baby was born more than 18 hours after my waters broke.
“And even after going through that, I had to fight to get antibiotics when I went into labour with my second child.”
After her ordeal Kimberley received help from Group B Strep Support – a charity which offers information for new and expectant parents and health workers.
To help the charity, Kimberley has organised a charity morning in Larkfield Community hall on July 29 from 10am to 2pm.
Kimberley said: “July is awareness month and the charity’s 20th birthday, so I am holding a morning to raise awareness and hopefully some money.”