Group B Strep is found in 15%-40% of healthy adult women. Those women who test positive for GBS are said to be colonized with the bacteria. A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery. GBS is responsible for affecting about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. Although this is a relatively rare occurrence, babies born with GBS face severe injury including brain injury and death.
Mothers can and should be tested for GBS by their doctors between 35 and 37 weeks of their pregnancy. The test involves a swab of both the mother’s vagina and rectum. The sample is taken to a lab where the culture is analyzed for any presence of Group B Strep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all woman who have risk factors prior to being screened for GBS (i.e. women who have pre-term labor beginning prior to 37 weeks) must be treated with IV antibiotics until their GBS status is known.
Symptoms that may indicate you are at a higher risk of delivering a baby for GBS and therefore should receive antibiotics include:
- labor or rupture of membranes before 37 weeks
- rupture of membranes 18 hours or more before delivery
- fever during labor
- a urinary tract infection as a result of GBS during pregnancy
- a previous baby with GBS
A doctor MUST use antibiotics for prevention of your baby becoming infected with GBS.
The signs and symptoms of newborns with GBS include:
- breathing problems, heart and blood pressure instability
- gastrointestinal and kidney problems
- sepsis (blood infection), pneumonia and meningitis
Penicillin is often used during pregnancy in non-allergic patients (a substitute antibiotic in those allergic) to prevent these serious conditions.
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