Women's Health

Group B Strep (GBS) in Pregnancy

​​Group B Strep:

Group B strep, also known as: group B streptococcus (GBS), is a common type of bacteria normally found in the pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. GBS can be transmitted from the mother to the baby during labor. Although GBS is harmless for adults, it can develop complications during pregnancy, and cause serious diseases to newborns. Doctors recommend undergoing the GBS test during the last trimester of pregnancy, as a regular pre-delivery procedure. GBS is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI); since this type of bacteria is found in the bowel, vagina or rectum.     

  • Labor (the tissue gets torn) before the 37th week of pregnancy;
  • The tissue gets torn 18 hours, or more, before delivery;
  • Fever during labor;
  • Urinary tract inflammation during pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms that may occur to the baby a few hours after delivery:
  • Infection in the blood (sepsis), infection in the lungs (pneumonia), and inflammation of the covering of the brain or spinal cord (meningitis) (the most common symptom);
  • Problems breathing;
  • Abnormalities in the heart rate and blood pressure;
  • Disorders in the digestive system and kidneys;
Meningitis (which is the most common symptom) may be detected in one week, or a few months, after delivery.

Pregnant women are examined for GBS during the 35th-37th week of pregnancy. The doctor will take swab samples from the vagina and rectum and send them to a lab for testing. The results normally appear in 24-48 hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if the test is positive, and yet the risk is not so high, the chance of getting an infected baby will be:
  • 1 per 200, if antibiotics are not administered; or
  • 1 per 4000, if antibiotics are administered.

GBS is treated by taking intravenous doses of antibiotics, to protect the baby from infection during delivery. Antibiotics have proven effective at reducing the risk of early infection.

CDC recommend that all pregnant women routinely undergo GBS tests. Those tests are conducted during the 35th-37th weeks of pregnancy. Research indicates that the GBS test conducted five weeks before delivery is the most accurate.

  • Are antibiotics safe for the baby?
  • Penicillin V is the most commonly used antibiotic used by the pregnant women who don’t have penicillin allergy. And there are safe substitutes for those having penicillin allergy. Seek the doctor’s advice to discuss which antibiotic is most appropriate for you.

Myths & Truths:
  • There is an anti-GBS vaccine.
  • Truth: Currently, there is not such a vaccine. Work is underway produce a vaccine, that may be available in the future, to help pregnant women protect their babies against GBS.

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 28 January 2020 08:39 AM
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