Featured Video: Group B Strep Awareness 2023


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Group B strep (GBS) is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women. About 1 in 4 pregnant individuals “carry” or are “colonized” with GBS. Carrying GBS does not mean that you have an infection or are unclean. Anyone can carry GBS.

Unfortunately, babies can be infected by GBS before birth through several months of age due to their underdeveloped immune systems. ​Only a few babies who are exposed to GBS become infected, but GBS can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and infection in newborn babies possibly resulting in lifelong health challenges or even death.

GBS most commonly causes infection in the blood (sepsis), the fluid and lining of the brain (meningitis), and the lungs (pneumonia). Some GBS survivors experience handicaps such as blindness, deafness, mental challenges, and/or cerebral palsy.

GBS infections before birth are called “prenatal-onset.”
GBS can cause preterm labor, causing your baby to be born too early.
GBS infection can also cause your water to break prematurely without labor starting, causing your baby to lose a significant layer of protection.

It is thought that most babies acquire GBS from their mother’s birth canal. GBS infections within the first six days of life are called “early-onset.” Once born, babies can become infected with GBS by sources other than the birthing parent. GBS infections occurring between 7 days to 3 months of age are called “late-onset.” Although less common, “ultra late-onset” may occur after 3 months of age.

It is now the standard of care in many countries to be routinely test for GBS between 36 and 37 weeks of each pregnancy unless a urine culture is positive in the current pregnancy or a previous baby was infected by GBS. Testing is done by taking a swab of both your vagina and rectum. Your test result should be available in 2–3 days. Be aware that you may test negative for GBS (GBS-), but be GBS+ later and vice versa as GBS colonization can change. Ask your provider about being tested again if GBS- in a test done before 36 weeks.

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