Group Beta Strep
You might have heard different healthcare providers discuss Group Beta Streptococcus (GBS) screening during pregnancy. But what is GBS and why is it important to screen for?
What is it?
Group B Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that occurs as part of the body’s natural flora. It is typically found in the lower intestinal tract and vaginal area. In most cases, GBS does not cause any problems for mothers, and they do not exhibit any symptoms of infection.
Sometimes, however, it can colonize in areas that the baby will be in contact with during birth, which can cause invasive infections.
Is it dangerous for me or my baby?
GBS is usually not dangerous to the birthing person. Mothers with strong immunity can generally survive a GBS infection without serious illness or severe symptoms.
However, it can be dangerous to babies if they contract it. GBS infection in the baby can cause early-onset disease and late-onset disease. These can vary from mild infections to fatal conditions like septicemia.
A baby with early-onset disease typically becomes ill within 12 to 48 hours after birth or up to the first week of life. The early disease can range from mild infection or meningitis to pneumonia, or severe blood infection resulting in sepsis.
Early symptoms of GBS infection can include severe crying, not feeding, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and raised temperature.
In late-onset disease, a baby gets sick between a week and a few months after birth. Symptoms are similar to early-onset disease but appear later in life.
How do you test for GBS?
We usually have you do a simple vaginal swab test around 36 weeks of pregnancy to test for GBS colonization.
What happens if you test positive for GBS?
If you test positive on the swab test later during the pregnancy, we recommend using antibiotics during labor. Treating the infection before that won’t minimize the risk of transmission to the baby.
Antibiotics help to keep the load of bacteria low enough so that the baby is less likely to come in contact with GBS.
While this can be severe, we are prepped and ready to manage GBS if it does present itself in your pregnancy!