Group B Streptococcus also known as Group B Strep Infection (GBS) is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. This bacterium is normally found in the vagina and/or rectum of about 25% of all healthy, adult women. Women who test positive for GBS are said to be colonized. A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery. GBS affects about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. This infection can cause serious illness (pneumonia, meningitis, blood infection), developmental delay and death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended routine screening for vaginal strep B for all pregnant women. This screening is performed between the 35th and 37th week of pregnancy. The test involves a swab of both the vagina and the rectum. The sample is then taken to a lab where a culture is analyzed for any presence of GBS. Test results are generally available within a few days. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all women who have risk factors PRIOR to being screened for GBS are treated with IV antibiotics during labor until their GBS status is established.
If you test positive for GBS, your physician will give you antibiotics through an IV during labor to prevent your baby from becoming ill. Taking antibiotics greatly decreases the chances of your baby developing early-onset group B Strep infection. For women who are group B Strep carriers, antibiotics given before labor begins are not effective at preventing the transmission of the group bacteria. Therefore, it is important for all pregnant women to be tested for group B Strep between 35 to 37 weeks of every pregnancy.
Ask your OBGYN about group B Strep Testing
Be aware of the risks of group B Strep for you and your baby
Create a dialogue between you and your provider about GBS testing and treatments
If you need more information about GBS risks and diagnosis, click here.
For more information about Group B Strep International.