Grieving N.B. mother raising awareness about threat of bacterial infection in babies
A young mother in Saint John is talking publicly about a private family tragedy with the hope that other families may benefit.
Angielee Snodgrass's young son died shortly after he was born from a rare bacterial infection associated with strep.
Last fall, she was diagnosed with Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, while she was pregnant. During labour in hospital, she received four hours of antibiotics which she thought would protect both her and the baby.
"I thought when I had the antibiotics in labour, that my son was home and nothing could come of it,” says Snodgrass. “I never thought that three weeks later, that my son, wouldn't be there anymore."
Her son, Benjamin, fell critically ill at home, was rushed to hospital, then to the IWK in Halifax. He developed severe brain damage and later succumbed to the illness.
For about three weeks, Snodgrass's newborn was a seemingly healthy little boy. But then his condition changed dramatically and for the worse, which she says is typical in a late onset GBS case.
Snodgrass says GBS is passed on from mother to baby in about one in 4,000 cases after the mother receives antibiotic treatment. She was one of those cases, but didn't know it at the time.
"I was never told of any signs of symptoms to look for in a baby with GBS. So I never noticed the smallest signs,” says Snodgrass. “A newborn sleeps all the time. A newborn may have poor circulation in the feet so they have cold feet. Those are signs you would have with a baby with GBS."
Snodgrass, and Benjamin’s father Cody Willard, says if mothers are diagnosed with GBS, then hospitals should consider keeping babies longer to make sure everything is okay, and perhaps doing further tests.
"I just think there should be more awareness and babies should be tested. Because regardless of whether the mother gets antibiotics, it doesn't matter, because it's the babies that might get affected by the GBS," says Willard.
Snodgrass has launched a social media campaign about GBS, in hopes that the tragedy that happened to her family, will not happen again.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron