Approximately 1 in 4 pregnant individuals carry group B strep (GBS), the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). GBS can also infect babies during pregnancy and the first few months of life.
Not all babies exposed to GBS become infected, but, for those who do, the results can be devastating. GBS can cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn, born prematurely, become very sick, have lifelong handicaps, or die. Even babies born to a those who tests negative can become infected by group B strep.
Fortunately there are ways to help protect babies from group B strep disease, such as testing for group B strep during pregnancy!
Knowing your GBS status can help you and your healthcare providers take adequate steps to help protect your baby.
Ideally, your provider should do a urine culture for group B strep (GBS) and other bacteria (this is not the standard prenatal urine “dipstick” check) at your first prenatal visit. Having group B strep in your urine is a risk factor associated with early-onset GBS disease. If your urine tests positive, your provider should consider you as “GBS colonized” for this pregnancy so that you receive IV antibiotics for GBS when labor starts or your water breaks.
If you have urinary symptoms or a significant level of GBS in your urine, your healthcare provider should prescribe oral antibiotics at the time of diagnosis. We advocate for a recheck ("test of cure") one month after treatment.
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