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What is Group B Strep? Learn more this July.

July is International Group B Strep (GBS) Month. Group B Strep is one of the streptococcal bacteria that can cause infection. Our bodies can carry this bacteria naturally in the intestinal tract. The danger of GBS happens when expectant mothers pass the bacteria to their unborn child, or newborn. ‘Approximately 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women carry GBS [...]’ Because of the risk of complications, which include stillbirth, sepsis (blood infection), and meningitis (membrane inflammation of the spine and brian), detecting the presence of GBS is important to prevention.

The CDC has a recommendation for when the testing should happen, based on the likelihood of passing the bacteria to the baby during delivery (early onset GBS). ‘CDC’s guidelines recommend that a pregnant woman be tested, or screened, for group B strep when she is 35 to 37 weeks pregnant’ The test is a cotton swab test, and doesn’t hurt. The reason for the testing later in pregnancy is that the bacteria can come and go, and treatment is most effective closest to delivery, when antibiotics can lessen the likelihood of transmission. ‘A pregnant woman who tests positive for group B strep and gets antibiotics during labor can feel confident knowing that she has only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby with group B strep disease’.

Testing negative for GBS does not completely exclude the possibility that an infection may have occurred, and the infection may show up later in the child. This is late onset GBS. The treatment during delivery only helps prevent early onset GBS, and there is no known cause for late onset GBS.

This is why you must watch for unusual behavior in your baby. ‘Signs that you should contact your baby's doctor include lethargy, unusual irritability, poor feeding, vomiting, [stiffness] and fever’. Share this article with people you know to help spread the awareness.

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