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Group B Streptococcus Infection – GBS

What is Group B Strep?

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria frequently found in the vagina of women. In fact, 35% of all healthy women are found to have GBS in the vagina. Although this bacteria does not typically cause symptoms or problems for the woman, it can occasionally cause severe and life-threatening infections in newborns. GBS is not a sexually transmitted disease. GBS is not the same as Group A Streptococcus, which causes Strep throat.

How is GBS transmitted to the baby?

GBS is passed to the baby in the birth canal during labor or delivery when the baby comes into contact with the bacteria carried by the mother. Although up to 35% of women carry GBS, in untreated women, only 1% of babies exposed to GBS become ill due to the bacteria. It is unknown why some exposed infants become ill while others never have a problem.

How do we test for and treat GBS?

A vaginal culture will be done when you are approximately 36 weeks pregnant.

If the culture is positive, you will be treated with intravenous antibiotics (Penicillin, unless you are allergic) during your labor and delivery. You will not need to take antibiotics prior to labor, as treatment with oral antibiotics will only decrease the amount of GBS for a short time but will not eliminate it.

What if you go into labor before your GBS test is done?

You will receive intravenous antibiotics during labor and delivery.

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