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Group B Streptococcus

Group B streptococcus (GBS), is a common bacterium found in the intestines or lower genital tract. Group B strep is mostly harmless in adults, but it can cause serious illness in newborns. 


Therefore, as a precaution, healthcare providers often recommend group B strep testing in the third trimester. Group B strep testing involves swabbing the vagina at around 36 weeks of pregnancy. At any given time, a woman has about a 30% chance of carrying GBS.


In the event the group B strep test is positive, it is recommended that women receive IV antibiotics, as recommended by your healthcare provider, in labour to minimise baby contracting GBS as they pass through the birth canal.


Risk factors for GBS infections include:

  • Preterm labor
  • Prolonged labor
  • a previous baby with GBS infection
  • a GBS-positive swab in an earlier pregnancy
  • rupturing of the membranes well before the onset of labor 
  • signs of infection around the time of labor or delivery 


A recent Australian study reported lower rates of GBS disease among infants in hospitals where all women who were pregnant were screened for Group b Strep. However, some facilities screen only at-risk pregnant women, while others screen all pregnant women from 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy.


You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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