Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, is a form of bacteria that can be found in the intestines, vagina and/or rectum. Approximately 20-40% of all healthy women have the bacteria, but do not know.
Approximately 1 out of every 2000 babies will become infected with Group B Strep during the birthing process, although not all will exhibit symptoms of the infection. While the infection may not cause any symptoms for the mother, severe outcomes are possible when the infection is transmitted to the baby. If the mother does show symptoms, they are most commonly bladder infections and uterine infections. Common symptoms of the infection in a newborn include respiratory problems, blood pressure instability, kidney complications, sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. GBS can also lead to stillbirth.
Because Group B Strep can be passed to the baby during delivery, all women will be routinely tested for the infection during pregnancy. Generally, healthcare providers will screen their pregnant patients for the infection between week 35 and 37. Women that are at experiencing symptoms of preterm labor should be given antibiotics to prevent the infection from being passed to their baby in the event that the infection is present. For the test, a swab is taken of the vagina and rectum. The test should not hurt and is quick. The swab is examined in a lab and results should be available within 48 hours.
If your GBS test comes back positive for the infection, IV antibiotics will be given throughout your birthing process to prevent the baby from acquiring the infection. Because the infection is capable of quickly regrowing, antibiotics can not be taken before labor begins to prevent the baby from acquiring the infection. The most common drug for the treatment of GBS is penicillin, but other medications are available if penicillin is not an option.
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