Group B Strep in Pregnancy
Group B strep is a common bacterium of the intestines and the lower genital tract.
Though harmless in most adults, during pregnancy this bacterium may be a cause of urinary tract infection or post-partum uterine infection. Rarely, it may enter the bloodstream and cause maternal pneumonia, meningitis, or sepsis.
However, the primary concern with Group B strep during pregnancy is the potential risk of infection to the placental tissues, the amniotic fluid, or the baby during the birth process.
Few babies exposed to Group B strep become infected, but if infection does occur, it could be life threatening to a newborn baby.
Patients who are pregnant and identified as carriers of Group B strep, or have a history of a prior baby with a Group B strep related infection, are given antibiotics during labor to reduce the risk of developing an infection to mother or baby.
Taking antibiotics prior to the onset of labor doesn’t help, as the bacteria can grow back quite quickly. Also, early use may allow for antibiotic resistance to occur, making it harder to treat a subsequent infection.
Frequently asked questions:
Is Group B strep related to strep throat?
No. The two are different strains of streptococcal bacteria.
How do I find out if I carry Group B strep?
Studies have shown that the optimal time to test for the presence of Group B strep during pregnancy is within 5 weeks of delivery. Current recommendations are to obtain a culture swab of the lower genital tract at 35-37 week’s gestation.
What if I test positive for Group B strep?
If your Group B strep test is positive, that means you are a carrier of this bacterium. You will be given intravenous antibiotics at the time of labor and delivery.
Are antibiotics safe for my baby?
Penicillin is commonly used for Group B strep during pregnancy. Many studies support its safety for use during pregnancy. If you have a penicillin allergy, alternative antibiotics that are safe for use during pregnancy are also available.
I tested positive earlier in my pregnancy for Group B strep. Do I need to be retested?
No. Once you have been identified as a carrier anytime during your current pregnancy, you will be given antibiotics during labor. Retesting for Group B strep does not provide a benefit in this situation.
Who else needs antibiotics in labor for Group B strep?
If you had a prior infant with a severe Group B strep infection, it is recommended that you receive antibiotics during labor in subsequent pregnancies, regardless of your current Group B strep status.
I am having a planned c-section delivery. Do I need to be tested for Group B strep?
Yes. As labor may occur prior to your scheduled c-section delivery, your obstetrician and your pediatrician will still need to know your Group B status. (Antibiotics typically given for c-section deliveries do cover Group B strep.)
If you have further questions regarding Group B strep, please feel free to discuss them with one of our providers.
To schedule an appointment, please call (847) 394 - 3553. You may also contact us by e-mail.
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