If you’re pregnant, it’s important that you know about Group B strep (GBS). GBS is a bacterial infection that normally lives in a woman’s intestine, vagina and/or rectal areas. It can be passed on to your child causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, serious illness, lifelong disabilities and even death. Therefore, you need to know how to prevent infection in your baby if you’re a carrier.
About 25% of all pregnant women test positive for GBS. If you’re a carrier, there is an increased risk (about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the U.S.) that you may infect your child before and during labor. The most common complications from infection following delivery are sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. GBS can also cause blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy and development disabilities in some children.
Therefore, it’s important for you to be tested for GBS as part of your prenatal care. During your first trimester, if you experience vaginal or bladder infections, ask your doctor to do a urine culture for GBS. If you test positive, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics and want you to take another test.
When you’re at 35 to 37 weeks, your doctor should perform a swab test of your vagina and rectum to determine if you carry GBS. If you test positive, talk with your doctor about how your prenatal care and delivery will be handled to prevent the risk of infecting your child.
During labor, you’ll need to have at least 4 hours of IV antibiotics. More than 90% of GBS infections at birth can be prevented with IV antibiotics. If you don’t receive 4 hours of IV antibiotics, your baby has a 1 in 200 chance of getting GBS.
By learning all you can about GBS, you’ll be better prepared if you are a carrier. For more information about GBS and your prenatal and delivery care, contact the Andis Women's and Children's Department at Hancock Regional Hospital at 317-468-4485.