Group B strep infection (GBS), affects around 1 in every 2,000 babies born in the United States each year. Although not every infant who contracts GBS will experience the adverse effects associated with the virus, it’s important for physicians to screen and treat pregnant before labor and delivery, which will help eliminate the chances of the baby contracting it to begin with.
What is Group B Strep Infection?
GBS, also known as group B streptococci, is a bacterial infection that affects anywhere from 25-40% of women.
Contrary to popular myths, GBS infections are not related to the group A strep, a bacteria that causes strep throat. More severe, group b strep is a virus that a woman develop in the vaginal or in the rectal area without knowing it. It is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, and doctors still don’t know how a woman gets it as she often shows zero symptoms of having the virus.
How Do I Know I Have GBS?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that all women have a GBS test between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. The testing process is relatively simple: the doctor takes a swab and sends it off for cultured testing, which generally that takes anywhere from 24-48 hours. Although there are no symptoms to go by, there are several risk factors involved in developing GBS.
Women are more prone to GBS if they:
- Previously had GBS during pregnancy
- Have (or had) a urinary tract infection during pregnancy
- Experience labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy
- Have a baby more than 18 hours after their water breaks
- Develop a high fever during labor
What is the Treatment for GBS for Mothers?
If you are found with GBS when you’re tested at the recommended time in your pregnancy, your doctor should prescribe pregnancy-friendly antibiotics. It’s possible that during delivery, your child can get GBS when passing through the birth canal and coming into contact with the virus. By taking antibiotics, the virus can be attacked before your baby passes through the birth canal.
What Are the Dangers of GBS to Infants?
Infants exposed to GBS can experience a number of health problems. As mentioned earlier, not all babies will become sick if exposed to the virus, but every infant who is, runs the risk of:
- Stillborn death
What Are the Dangers of GBS to Mothers?
Mothers too, may experience a number of health problems, including:
- Bladder infections
- Uterine infections
What Are the Symptoms of a Group B Strep Infection?
It’s important to keep an eye out for a group B strep infection in infant so that you can get treatment for them as quickly as possible. These symptoms usually develop anywhere within the first 24 hours of life to the first week of life, and may include: fever, breathing problems, grunting sounds, bluish skin, seizures, limpness, stiffness, heart rate and blood pressure abnormalities, poor feeding, and fussiness.
Doctors can easily diagnose GBS in infants, sometimes with a chest X-ray and sometimes lab studies that require samples of various different fluids such as blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid. Infants with GBS may be prescribed with antibiotics to fight the infection.