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My name is Kelsey Coleman. I am a wife, a mother of two beautiful boys, and a Registered Nurse. I’ve worked as a labor and delivery nurse for six years, and it’s a specialty I’ve always been incredibly passionate about. It was through this job that I originally became aware of Group B Streptococcus (GBS). Prior to the birth of my eldest son, the following is what I knew about GBS: pregnant women can become colonized with GBS; it’s not uncommon to test positive, and if you do test positive, you’ll be treated with antibiotics during labor and don’t have anything to worry about. I was undereducated on the topic, as I believe most people are, and I was not prepared for the impact it would have on my life and my son’s life.
During my pregnancy, I was tested for GBS in two ways. The first method was a urine culture at my first prenatal visit, and the second was a swab performed at my 36-week prenatal appointment, both of which came back negative. I was induced at 39 weeks and delivered a seemingly healthy 7-pound 11-ounce baby boy, Colt Coleman, on August 30, 2018.
Our first night was perfect and there were no indications that anything was wrong. Around 24 hours old, however, Colt became increasingly irritable and inconsolable. He was no longer eating, was whimpering almost continuously, and his skin became mottled or spotted. That evening, he had his first seizure and further testing was ordered. When he started having recurrent seizures, the decision was made to airlift him to a NICU facility. GBS wasn’t even on my mind because I tested negative twice. I had no idea what was happening to my child.
Shortly after we arrived at the NICU we were informed that Colt’s blood culture, which was drawn the night before, was growing GBS, which he contracted during labor and delivery despite my negative test results. In total, we spent 21 days in the NICU where Colt received IV antibiotics and a slew of other tests before we were discharged home.
Today, Colt is a happy and healthy 4-year-old, but the effects of this devastating infection continue to linger. He is developmentally behind his peers and struggles with fine motor tasks. He still needs help with things like dressing himself and eating, but he is getting better each day at doing those things for himself. In addition to motor delays, he is mostly nonverbal. My heart longs to hear him speak. He attends weekly occupational and speech therapy sessions to help him progress in those areas.
GBS caused a vast infection that ravaged his immature immune system, which resulted in meningitis and swelling around his brain. Our doctors believe that ultimately the infection is to blame for his motor, developmental, and speech delays. Despite everything he’s been through and everything he’s currently struggling to learn, Colt has the best personality. He is super silly, sweet, and loves to make people laugh. We hope and pray that GBS is something that can be completely eliminated in pregnancy, because we would never wish our experience nor our son’s ongoing battles on anyone.
I’ve done a lot of research on GBS since our experience and discovered that 60% of early-onset GBS cases have occurred among infants born to women who had a negative prenatal GBS culture screen. How can we better protect young infants from GBS in the future?
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