HOW IS LATE-ONSET GBS SPREAD? Late-onset GBS disease occurs in babies over 1 week of age up to several months old. Once born, GBS disease can be caused by sources other than the mother. There are currently no prevention protocols in place to help prevent late-onset GBS disease. However, being able to recognize the signs of GBS infection in babies is imperative for prompt medical treatment for better outcomes.
IS IT SAFE TO BREASTFEED? Breastfeeding can supply your baby with important antibodies to fight infection. However, it is speculated that a few late-onset and recurrent GBS infections are possibly associated with infected breast milk. It is currently thought that the health benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risk of exposure to GBS.
Avoid unnecessary, frequent, or forceful internal exams which may push GBS closer to your baby (9). (Knowing how far you are dilated does not accurately predict when your baby will be born.) Vaginal or perineal ultrasounds are a less invasive option.(10) Discuss the benefits vs. risks of possible methods of induction with your provider well before your due date as not all providers ask before “stripping” (also known as “sweeping”) membranes.
Ask your provider to not strip your membranes if you test positive for GBS. (Be aware that you may test negative, but be GBS positive later.) GBS can cross even intact membranes and procedures such as stripping membranes and using cervical ripening gel to induce labor may push bacteria closer to your baby.(11-13)
Have everyone wash their hands before handling your baby. Make sure everyone who takes care of your baby knows the symptoms of GBS infection in babies and how to respond.