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Group B Streptococcus

Group B Streptococcus - What it is

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacterial infection that is normally found in the vagina and rectum.  Approximately 25% of all healthy adult women carry the bacteria. Group B Streptococcus is usually harmless to pregnant women as well as the newborn baby. However, around 1 in 450 newborn babies in whom the mother carries GBS, do become ill with infection.

Common ways which GBS infection can affect babies are:
  • Blood Infection (septicaemia)
  • Lung infection (pneumonia) and/or
  • Infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)

Group B Streptococcus - Symptoms

Group B Streptococcus - How to prevent?

Group B Streptococcus - Causes and Risk Factors

Group B Streptococcus - Diagnosis

Must I get myself screened for GBS during Pregnancy?

You do not need to get screened if you have records for either one or all of the following:
  • GBS was detected in your urine sample in the current pregnancy
  • GBS infection occurred in your baby in the previous pregnancy
Antibiotics will be administered to you directly during labour and birth.

What will happen if I choose not to be screened?

No antibiotics will be administered unless other medical conditions arise, such as the development of fever during labour. Oral antibiotics will not eliminate GBS at the time of birth.

When do I get myself screened for GBS and how is it performed?

GBS screening is not part of the routine care of expectant mothers, therefore it is recommended to get screened. The best period to detect GBS is when you are 35-37 weeks pregnant. Your doctor will only need to take a swab from the lower part of your vagina for the lab test.

GBS may also be detected in the routine course of pregnancy tests performed for other infections.


Group B Streptococcus - Treatments

To reduce the risk of infecting the baby, antibiotics will be administered to expectant mothers via a drip into your vein (intravenous-IV) throughout the labour or if the membranes rupture (water breaks) early. Antibiotics are not given before labour because they are not effective at this time and the bacteria may grow again before labour begins.

The antibiotics chosen are safe for both yourself and the baby, but some will experience a small risk of allergy reactions and temporary side effects.

You may consult your doctor for further advice.


Group B Streptococcus - Preparing for surgery

Group B Streptococcus - Post-surgery care

Group B Streptococcus - Other Information

Can I still breastfeed if I am GBS positive?

Regardless of your own GBS status, the evidence suggests that it is safe to breastfeed.
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