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GBS (Group Beta Strep)

Group Beta Strep in Pregnancy (GBS)


What is GBS?

             Group beta strep or GBS is a type of bacteria.  It is commonly found in about 10-30% of pregnant women.  GBS is not the same type of strep bacteria that causes strep throat. 


Is GBS a type of sexually transmitted disease (STD)?

             No.  This bacteria is considered a normal bacteria to be present in a woman's vagina, urinary tract and/or intestinal tract.  There is no need for a woman to feel ashamed if GBS is found. 


Why do you test for GBS?

              During pregnancy, it is important to check for the presence of the bacteria.  GBS may be passed to a baby if the membrane or sac around the baby is broken and during vaginal delivery.  If the bacteria is passed to the infant, he or she can become infected with GBS, which can lead to pneumonia and sepsis (infection in the blood).


How do you test for GBS?

               GBS testing is performed easily with a simple swab of the vagina and rectum.  The swab is sent to a lab which will check for the presence of this type of bacteria.  GBS may also be detected in the urine and can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs).  If GBS is found, the woman is consider to be GBS positive.


What if I'm GBS positive?

               If you are GBS positive, it is important that you receive IV antibiotics in the hospital prior to delivery.  The antibiotics will help kill the bacteria in the vagina before the baby passes through.  Receiving two dose of antibiotics prior to delivery has shown to be the most effective in reducing the spread of this bacteria to the baby.


When will I be tested?

               A test will be performed during the third trimester between 35 and 37 weeks of the pregnancy. 


What is the treatment for GBS?

                If your test is positive, will receive IV antibiotics in the hospital while you are in labor prior to delivery.


I'm planning a c-setion, do I need to be tested?

               Yes.  It is still necessary to test women planning on c-section delivery because they may go into pre-term labor or spontaneously rupture the membrane around the baby. It will help the hospital staff and pediatrician monitor your baby for signs of infection if they know the bacteria may have been present.


How often does GBS pass to the baby?

                It is important to note that only 1-2% babies develop an infection from GBS that is passed from the mother.  Although the occurrence is rare, it is still important to treat GBS positive women to prevent infection in their infants.  When a woman does not receive treatment, it is 20 times more likely the baby will become infected. 


Overall, GBS is a common bacteria that is easy to detect and treat in a pregnant woman to prevent injury to the baby.


By Cyndi Ayoub, WHNP