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
Many people may carry GBS, but not be infected. People with compromised or weak immune systems are at risk for the bacteria causing an infection.
WHO CAN BE INFECTED BY GBS? Babies can be infected by GBS before birth through several months of age due to their underdeveloped immune systems. According to the CDC, in adults, most cases of GBS disease are among those who have other medical conditions. Other medical conditions that puts adults at increased risk include:
Congestive heart failure
Cancer or history of cancer
Risk for serious GBS disease also increases as people get older. Adults 65 years and older are at increased risk compared to adults under 65 years old.