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Mother reveals newborn nearly died after doctor missed deadly group B strep infection


A mother who claims she was told by a doctor to treat her sick newborn with Calpol has revealed ignoring his advice saved her from a deadly infection which would have killed her an hour later.

Victoria Auton, 35, from Hartlepool, had a strong gut feeling something was seriously wrong with her little girl, despite being told by her GP that ‘there was nothing to worry about’.

The mother-of-two noticed Lexie had a high temperature and looked pale in colour and rushed her to A&E just in time.

Lexie was immediately given oxygen and later diagnosed with Group B Streptococcus meningitis (GBS), a deadly infection passed down during pregnancy.

Victoria Auton, 35, from Hartlepool, pictured with her husband Robbie and their two children, said ignoring her doctor's advice saved her little girl's life

Victoria Auton, 35, from Hartlepool, pictured with her husband Robbie and their two children, said ignoring her doctor’s advice saved her little girl’s life

Lexie is now healthy and thriving at home – after months of physio and specialised treatment to help combat the brain damage she sustained as a result of the infection.

Victoria, an office manager and photographer, said: ‘The doctor’s told me she had been an hour away from death. If we had gone back to bed she would have been dead in the morning.’

After previously struggling to conceive naturally, and having their first child by IVF, Lexie was a ‘dream baby’ for Victoria and husband Robbie, 40, and was born at a healthy 7lbs 1oz on February 15.

But just three weeks later, Victoria started to notice signs that something wasn’t right when Lexie had a high temperature.

‘I took her to the doctor but he told me it was just a viral infection and told me to give her some Calpol,’ Victoria said.

Mother-of-two Victoria had a strong gut feeling something was seriously wrong with her little girl, despite being told by her GP that 'there was nothing to worry about'. The mother-of-two noticed Lexie (pictured) had a high temperature and looked pale in colour and rushed her to A&E just in time

Mother-of-two Victoria had a strong gut feeling something was seriously wrong with her little girl, despite being told by her GP that ‘there was nothing to worry about’. The mother-of-two noticed Lexie (pictured) had a high temperature and looked pale in colour and rushed her to A&E just in time

Still anxious, Victoria and Robbie, a corrugator manager, stayed up all night to keep an eye on Lexie.

‘I went down at half 3 and gave her a cuddle,’ Victoria recalled. ‘She looked worse, she had gone a pale colour and was still really hot.’

‘I woke Robbie up and we rushed to North Tees Hospital. We arrived and then suddenly 10 people rushed into the room we were in and put an oxygen mask on Lexie. I was crying my eyes out.’

At first the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with the newborn, but they later diagnosed her with Group B Streptococcus meningitis.

Victoria said: ‘I was devastated, my world came crashing down.’

Lexie had very high levels of infection and started having seizures.

After previously struggling to conceive naturally, and having their first child by IVF, Lexie was a 'dream baby' for Victoria (pictured) and husband Robbie, 40, and was born at a healthy 7lbs 1oz on February 15. But just three weeks later, Victoria started to notice signs that something wasn't right when Lexie had a high temperature

After previously struggling to conceive naturally, and having their first child by IVF, Lexie was a ‘dream baby’ for Victoria (pictured) and husband Robbie, 40, and was born at a healthy 7lbs 1oz on February 15. But just three weeks later, Victoria started to notice signs that something wasn’t right when Lexie had a high temperature

‘Suddenly her hand started tapping, and I immediately pushed the alert button,’ Victoria recalled.

‘The doctors rushed in again and watched as Lexie had a seizure but didn’t do anything. They told me they couldn’t do anything but watch her. I was screaming, “do something” but they couldn’t.’

Lexie had two more seizures and had to be moved to the Royal Victoria Infirmity, in Newcastle, for an MRI and a potential operation on her brain as her condition was worsening.

Lexie spent five weeks in North Tees Hospital, Stockton-on-Tees, while her infection levels dropped.

In the end Lexie didn’t need brain surgery but the family were told she had brain damage because of the oxygen levels.

Victoria said: ‘They told me she may never be able to move her arms properly, talk, smile or even look at me.

Lexie spent five weeks in North Tees Hospital, Stockton-on-Tees, while her infection levels dropped. In the end Lexie didn't need brain surgery but the family were told she had brain damage because of the oxygen levels - but Victoria said her little girl (pictured recently) has made massive improvements

Lexie spent five weeks in North Tees Hospital, Stockton-on-Tees, while her infection levels dropped. In the end Lexie didn’t need brain surgery but the family were told she had brain damage because of the oxygen levels – but Victoria said her little girl (pictured recently) has made massive improvements

‘But they didn’t know how badly she would be affected and there was nothing I could do but wait and see.’

Determined Lexie wouldn’t suffer, Victoria scoured the internet to find early intervention treatment and signed up for therapy and physio.

She said: ‘We started to spot signs of brain damage as soon as we got home. She wouldn’t move her arm properly or would roll around funny.’

Following months of physio and a technique called neuroplasticity, a process of repair and rewiring the brain, Lexie, now seven months old, has made massive improvements and is a ‘miracle’ according to her doctors and mum.

‘You wouldn’t know anything had happened to her, if anything she is advanced for her age,’ Victoria said.

‘She’s crawling around, sitting up and flicking through pages in her book and even trying to stand up. It’s unreal for her age. It’s amazing, she’s a miracle.’

WHAT IS A GROUP STREP B INFECTION?

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria that is carried by up to 40 per cent of adults, usually in the gut, and 25 per cent of women in their vaginas, without typically causing symptoms.

One in every 2,000 babies is diagnosed with the infection, according to figures from the NHS. It kills in around 10 per cent of cases.

The rate of GBS infection in newborn babies in the UK is 2.5x that of the US. 

GBS infections usually affect newborns, occasionally adults and very rarely babies during pregnancy and before labour.

Infants can suffer early-onset GBS infections, which are much more common and occur when the infant is up to six days old, if they come into contact with the bacteria in the womb or during birth.

This causes them to develop rapid breathing problems and blood poisoning.

Late-onset GBS infections, which occur between seven days and up to three months, usually cause sepsis and meningitis.

Babies’ symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Bluish-coloured skin
  • Seizures
  • Limpness or stiffness
  • Vomiting
  • Poor feeding 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fussing 

Adults may experience infections of the:

  • Skin and soft tissues
  • Bones and joints
  • Lungs
  • Urinary tract 

GBS infections are linked to stillbirths, premature deliveries and maternal infections. 

The treatment for sufferers of any age is IV antibiotics.

Source: Group B Strep Support 

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