Baby, Pregnancy, and Parenting Information

Group B Strep

The general population knows very little about Group B Strep (GBS), and many pregnant women have never heard of it, or have only heard of it in passing. Most are shocked when, late in the third trimester their doctor or midwife ask them to be tested, and the test then comes back positive. There are many questions surrounding GBS. What is it? Is it an STD? How does it affect newborns? How is it transmitted to a newborn? How can you prevent infection, and are there alternatives to antibiotics?

What Is It?
GBS is a bacteria found in the lower intestines of 10-35% of all adults. In women it can also be found in the vagina. To test for it, your provider will swab the area between your vagina and anus and send it for a test sometime between the 35th and 37th weeks of your pregnancy. GBS should not be confused with the strep that causes sore throat, Group A Strep. GBS is not contagious, and in most cases it causes no harm to the adult that has it. However, in some cases, it can cause serious infection, known as Group B Strep disease.

Is It An STD?
Since it can be found in the vagina, many people assume that GBS is a STD, which is not true.It is simply a bacterium that is found in many people. It causes no discomfort and can not be transmitted sexually; therefore a carrier of GBS does not need to change their sexual practices.

How Does It Affect Newborns?
Approximately 8,000 babies born each year will contract a serious form of GBS disease. Of these 8,000, as many as 600 will die and another 20% will be left permanently handicapped. If a baby is infected with GBS, will appear either as an infection in the blood (sepsis), or as meningitis. It is also a frequent cause of pneumonia in newborns. It can also leave them with hearing or vision loss, as well as physical or learning disabilities.

How Is It Transmitted To A Newborn?
GBS is transmitted to a newborn during their descent through the birth canal. However, having a c-section is not recommended pas a way to prevent the infection in your baby, as the bacteria can also be found in your uterus and amniotic sac.

Prevention of Infection
If a pregnant woman tests positive for GBS, she can often be given a series of penicillin shots through an IV while in labor, prior to delivery. It is best to get these shots at least 4 hours prior to delivery. In most cases, if the woman has these shots, the baby will not be infected. If time does not permit for the woman to receive these shots, then immediately after birth the nurses will give your baby a shot of penicillin in the leg, to help prevent infection. In this case a mother will normally be asked to stay in the hospital for 48 hours in order for the neonatal team to watch the newborn for signs of infection.

Alternatives to Antibiotics
There have been no studies showing the success of alternative and/or home remedies in the prevention of the passage of GBS to your newborn. However, there are some that doctors and midwives may suggest you try.

Vaginal washing and immunotherapy have been suggested as a way to help clean out your vagina. Some practitioners have suggested supplements for the mother. These supplements include garlic, vitamin C, echinacea, and/or bee propolis. After a series of these supplements a woman can be retested to see if the bacterium has disappeared. This has worked in many, but not all cases of GBS in pregnant women.


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10 Responses to “Group B Strep”

  1. 10
    Mindi Says:

    I had group b strep with my second daughter and was given the antibiotics during delivery and everything was fine. I have it again now with my 4th baby and I have no worries about it my midwives took good care of me last time and I have complete faith in my midwives to take care of me again.

  2. 9
    Dorothy Says:

    Get tested close to your delivery date if you can. My cousin who is a nurse in labor and delivery, had gbs with her first baby. He contracted it and died about 5 hours after birth of sepsis. This is devastating when it happens because the baby is otherwise extremely healthy. Get checked mama’s because you need your healthy babies to live!

  3. 8
    kole Says:

    this is more of a question. Can you be tested for gbs, after having a baby?

  4. 7
    Shonna Says:

    I tested positive with this with my first child. and am getting retested at 36 weeks with my second( I am only 33 weeks now) though I think I might ask to have the antibiotics just incase, because my doctor with my first said you can test negative for it one month, and positive for it the next!
    So if youve had it before definatly talk to your doctor about being treated for it again, even if you test negative this time around. It is a dormant “germ” that “wakes” up infrequently and goes unnoticed.

  5. 6
    juli Says:

    My first baby died from gbs sepsis an hour after delivering her. I was given antibiotics, but I had been with my water broken for about 30 hours when everybody says that you can’t be with your water broken for more than 18 hours. Doctors seem not to know this so be very careful if your water brakes, take antibiotics no matter what and if somebody tells you something is wrong it’s probably true.Good luck everyone!

  6. 5
    brandy Says:

    i was just told today i tested positive, nothing i have researched really explains this and my doc and nurse only said its nothing to worry about and i will be treated during labor. i told my fiance and his first thought was is it an STD, is it passable to your partner!!!!! Men!!!, so now he thinks i’m infected with something

  7. 4
    hali Says:

    i im 40 weeks today i tested positive im pretty scared about all the side affects it has on your newborn my biggest worry w labor is having a healthy beautiful baby an this is my first babby so i hope an pray that my baby dont get it and everything goes fine in delivery!

  8. 3
    joanne Says:

    my daughter was born with b strep she was my 3rd child i never knew about it till i had her!! she was seriously ill an in intensive care but came out of it fine! im 36 weeks preg now an will be having the antibiotics during labour! pregnant women dont know enough about this but from my experience midwifes an docs dont!! im in the uk an they dont test u here which is wrong!!!

  9. 2
    Stephanie Says:

    I am 36 weeks and I was tested for this already and it did come back positive. I have never heard of it before eiether, and when the doctor told me I was quite concerned. He explained it to me when I asked, but I still wasn’t fully informed. Thank you for your information, because this makes me feel more at ease and confident my doctors are on the right track with giving me an IV with pendacilin once I’m in active labor!!!

  10. 1
    christine moran Says:

    I didnt know about Group B Strep. Thank you for being so informative. This week when im go to my doctors i will be asking to be tested for it. Thanx again…Christine

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