The young mother from the U.K. lost her 6-week-old just four days after he came down with the rare infection.

By Maressa Brown
November 30, 2018
baby OScar meningitis
Credit: SWNS

November 30, 2018

A mom from the U.K. named Georgia Higginbottom is warning other parents to be more aware of bacterial meningitis—an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord—following the heartbreaking loss of her 6-week-old son Oscar. It all began in October when the 21-year-old mom worried that her son might be ill and took him to the hospital. He was treated with antibiotics through a drip, and 48 hours, he was released, seeming like a "normal, typical baby."

Fast-forward two weeks later to November 9 when Oscar's breathing became "wheezy," and his temperature was up to approx. 103.4F. Higginbottom took her son to a walk-in clinic where he was given oxygen. The baby boy was soon transferred to the hospital.

baby Oscar meningitis
Credit: SWNS

Higginbottom's mom, Sharon Smith explained to British news agency SWNS, "In the morning, I was playing with him. Georgia fed him at noon, by 12.30 p.m. he was in the Walk-In Centre fighting for his life. “Within seconds of us putting him down, he woke up with a cry; a shrill cry. It was horrible. To look at him, you would not think there was anything wrong with him. We thought he had a bit too much milk to drink or something.”

Higginbottom says Oscar didn't have a rash (a symptom of meningitis, particularly seen in babies two months to two years old) when he fell ill, but pictures from a scan showed every single part of his brain was black. The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital did tests that confirmed medics' suspicions of Group B streptococcal meningitis (GBS).

By Tuesday, November 13, the family was faced with a heart-wrenching decision and took the little boy off of his life-support machine. “It was a joint decision because Oscar had already gone up to the angels,” Smith said. "He had already gone. Georgia held him in her arms from 2 a.m. until 10 a.m. when he passed away. She did not move."

Now, the grieving mom is pleading with other parents to be aware of the warning signs. “It’s really, really important," Higginbottom said. "I did not realize how serious this disease was. He was really poorly and, if he had survived, all he would have been able to do is breathe, and that’s not a life."

Smith added, “If you think there’s something wrong with your child, get them seen. Even if it’s the tiniest thing. It’s just a mother’s instinct. We just want to try and help people.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to notify their pediatrician immediately if their child displays any of the following warning signs of meningitis:

  • If your child is less than two months old: A fever, decreased appetite, listlessness, or increased crying or irritability. They note that, at this age, the signs of meningitis can be very subtle and difficult to detect, so it's better to get in touch with your doctor ASAP.
  • If your child is two months to two years old: This is the most common age for meningitis, according to the AAP. Symptoms may include fever, vomiting, decreased appetite, excessive crankiness, or excessive sleepiness. Seizures along with a fever may be the first signs of meningitis, although most brief, generalized (so-called tonic-clonic) convulsions turn out to be simple febrile seizures, not meningitis. A rash also may be a symptom of this condition.
  • If your child is two to five years old: In addition to the above symptoms, a child of this age with meningitis may experience a headache, pain in his back, or a stiff neck. He also may object to looking at bright lights.

Parents can also guard against the infection by ensuring their L.O.s get their Hib and pneumococcal vaccines, as well as the meningococcal vaccine, which protects children against four of the five most common strains of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease, a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children ages 2 to 18 in the United States.