Group B Streptococcus (GBS), or Streptococcus agalactiae, is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women. About 1 in 4 pregnant women "carry" or are "colonized" with GBS.
Carrying GBS does not mean that you are unclean. Anyone can carry GBS. GBS is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease or infection as it can occur on its own even in someone with no prior sexual experience. However, bacteria can be passed between sexual partners, including through oral contact. (For more info on this, please read the medical articles on our website under Sex & GBS.)
Unfortunately, babies can be infected by GBS before birth and up to about 6 months of age due to their underdeveloped immune systems.
There are three types of perinatal GBS disease, each with their own prevention challenges:
Very often we hear from parents who tell us they were told by their providers that "GBS is no big deal." Actually that is far from the truth.
According to the CDC, in the United States, group B strep is the leading cause of meningitis and sepsis in newborns. GBS also causes over 1200 babies per year to become infected after the first week of life up to several months of age--sometimes from sources other than the mother.
No one knows how often babies are miscarried or stillborn due to GBS because many parents don't choose to have autopsies or placental testing done for their deceased babies and death certificates are rarely updated with the findings so prenatal-onset cases are mostly overlooked for statistical purposes. Click the button below for stories of babies whose parents were told that GBS was no big deal. To view all of our GBS stories, please click HERE.
Recognize the symptoms of infection! GBS is a fast-acting type of bacteria so it is imperative that everyone who takes care of your baby knows the symptoms of possible GBS infection in babies and how to respond. Click here to order or download our many complimentary GBS awareness materials!
GBS is also a transient bacteria which means that a woman could test negative, but be positive later on. The following stories of are babies whose mothers tested negative for GBS.