What is Group B Strep?
Although GBS is rarely harmful to the mother it can pass to the baby, particularly during labour. This can cause serious complications such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis that can be life threatening for the baby. GBS is also known to cause urinary tract infections, and rarely, can infect the uterus and cause late miscarraiges, preterm birth, and stillbirth.
The good news is that if detected during pregnancy, GBS infection in your newborn baby can usually be prevented with antibiotics in labour.
It’s therefore important to get tested from 35 weeks onwards into your pregnancy to find out if you are carrying the bacterium. If you are, you should be offered intravenous antibiotics in labour which are very effective at preventing GBS infection during the vital first hours and days of life.This bacteria lives in the intestines, rectum, and vagina of 20-40% of women in the UK . Group B Streptococcus is also known as Group B Strep, Strep B, or GBS. Most women have no symptoms and although it is not a sexually transmitted disease it can be passed from one person to another through close physical contact. GBS is not harmful to you as a carrier, most of the time your baby will be born safely but it can be passed onto your baby during birth. This can occasionally cause serious infection such as Sepsis - an infection of the blood, Meningitis - an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain, or Pneumonia - an infection of the lungs in young babies and, very rarely, during pregnancy before labour. If GBS is found during your pregnancy, or you have previously had a baby affected by GBS infection, you should be offered antibiotics in labour. This reduces the risk of your baby contracting the infection. Any baby can develop a Group B Strep infection. This can make your baby very unwell, BUT with prompt treatment most babies will fully recover. However, early-onset Group B Strep infection which can develop in the first 6 days of life, usually on the first day of life is more likely if your baby is born preterm, if you have a temperature while in labour, or if your waters break before going into labour. If your newborn baby develops signs of GBS infection, they should be treated with antibiotics straight away.