What is Group B Strep?

What is Group B Strep?

Group B Streptococcus (GBS or group B Strep) is a naturally occurring bacterium that usually causes no harm, but can cause severe infection in a small number of babies and adults. Group B Strep is not a sexually transmitted disease.

What does group B Strep carriage mean?

Carrying group B Strep is normal — around 20-30% of adults carry group B Strep, typically in the gut and/or vagina without signs or symptoms. Group B Strep carriage does not require treatment until labour starts. At the start of labour, antibiotics should be offered to the mum to reduce the risk to the baby of developing group B Strep infection.

Infection occurs when group B Strep invades the body tissues – such infections are relatively uncommon. Most babies exposed to group B Strep will not develop infection but, for the small number who do, it can be life-threatening, causing septicaemia, pneumonia and meningitis.

What is group B Strep infection?

Group B Strep infection is rare after the first 2 days of life and very rare after age 3 months.

Group B Strep is however the most common cause of severe infection in newborn babies and of bacterial meningitis in babies younger than three months.

Most group B Strep infections can be prevented and, with prompt and appropriate treatment, most babies will fully recover from their group B Strep infection.

Group B Strep is a very rare cause of infection in the mother, and of late miscarriage and stillbirth. These events are so rare that giving Mums antibiotics before labour is not recommended. Prolonged antibiotic treatment during pregnancy can be harmful to the baby, and there is no good evidence that they would prevent group B Strep infections before labour.

Occasionally, group B Strep is found in Mum’s urine during pregnancy. This indicates that either the urine has been contaminated by group B Strep from the skin and Mum is a carrier, or when high levels of group B Strep are detected in the urine, that Mum has a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections during pregnancy should be treated at the time of diagnosis with antibiotics.

Most group B Strep infections in newborn babies can be prevented, so knowing about group B Strep during pregnancy is good.

If your baby has been ill with a group B Strep infection or you have sadly lost a baby through group B Strep which you believe has been as a result of medical errors during your pregnancy, labour or shortly after your baby’s birth and would like a no obligation discussion, please contact Elizabeth Smith on 01752 292309 or esmith@wolferstans.com

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