Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. This bacteria is normally found in the vagina and/or lower intestine of 15% to 40% of all healthy, adult women.
Those women who test positive for GBS are said to be colonized. A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery. GBS is responsible for affecting about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. Not every baby who is born to a mother who tests positive for GBS will become ill.
Although GBS is rare in pregnant women, the outcome can be severe, and therefore physicians include testing as a routine part of prenatal care.
So it can be pretty serious. However, when you have your child, if you test positive for GBS this simply means that you are a carrier. Not every baby who is born to a mother who tests positive for GBS will become ill. Approximately one of every 100 to 200 babies whose mothers carry GBS will develop signs and symptoms of GBS disease. There are, however, symptoms that may indicate that you are at a higher risk of delivering a baby with GBS. These symptoms include:
Labor or rupture of membrane before 37 weeks
Rupture of membrane 18 hours or more before delivery
Fever during labor
A urinary tract infection as a result of GBS during your pregnancy
A previous baby with GBS disease
In this case your physician will want to use antibiotics for prevention and protection.
According to the CDC, if you have tested positive and are not in the high risk category, then your chances of delivering a baby with GBS are:
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