All about Group B Strep — GBS

Midwife visits momGroup Beta Strep or GBS is a common bacteria that can be found in the human body and typically doesn’t harm a healthy individual. GBS can be found all over the body most commonly it can be found in the vagina, rectum and intestines. In pregnant women, GBS has been known to cause urinary, kidney’s, blood and uterine infections. For babies GBS is one of the biggest causes of neonatal sepsis. Babies that are exposed to GBS this can develop severe illness, including respiration, blood infections and meningitis.

When you are around 35-37 weeks pregnancy your healthcare provider will test you to see if you have this bacteria present in your body. The test can be done in different ways but often involves a Q-tip or swap around the rectum or vagina and this swab is sent to the lab for testing.

If you test positive for GBS then you will need antibiotics during you labor. You will need enough of the antibiotics so that they can reach the baby, so that the baby will be protected against this bacterium when they are born.  If you or your babies have been positive in one pregnancy for GBS your healthcare provider may want you to take the antibiotics for all you other pregnancies. If you have had preterm labor or preterm rupture of membranes you may also get tested or receive the antibiotics. You will need to discuss this with your healthcare provider so that you can decide on the best care for both you and your baby.

If you are positive and did not receive enough of the antibiotic, then your baby may need to be tested or monitored closely. It is extremely important to notify your healthcare provider if you are GBS positive and your water breaks. When your water breaks there is an increase risk of infection and receiving antibiotics is essential.

The most common antibiotic given for this is a penicillin, however, if you are allergic then you must notify your health care provider so they can determine the best antibiotic for you.

Common symptoms of GBS infection:

Bladder infection symptoms:

      • Pain or a burning feeling when you urinate
      • The need to urinate often
      • Unable to empty bladder completely
      • The need to urinate suddenly or in a hurry
      • Blood in the urine
      • Foul or funny smelling urine

Kidney infection symptoms:

      • More severe than a bladder infection
      •  Fever
      •  Back pain (usually on one side)
      •  nausea and vomiting

Amniotic infection symptoms:  

      • Fever
      • Tenderness in the lower part of the belly, where the uterus is found
      • A fast heart rate or palpitations
      • Pain

Your baby can develop an infection from GBS right from the delivery also called early-onset GBS infection, which occurs within the first 6 days of life and your baby can develop late-onset GBS infection which occurs after the first 6 days of life.

Signs of infection in baby:

    • Slowness or inactivity
    • Irritability
    • High Fever: greater than 100.4F
    • Low body temperature, cool to touch
    • Vomiting
    • Difficulty breathing, nasal flaring, grunting, rapid noisy breathing
    • Poor feeding
    • Skin color pale or bluish

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a great website with detailed information on earl and late onset GBS infections: click here