What you need to know about Group B Strep or GBS
In the last weeks of your pregnancy, usually between 35 and 37weeks, your practitioner will take a culture for a bacteria known as Group B Streptococcus. This culture consists of taking a swab( swipe with a Q-tip) of the vaginal/perineal area. This should not be painful. If your culture is positive, your practitioner will recommend being treated with antibiotics when you are in labor. “Wait a minute!!! I don’t want any antibiotics for my baby when I am in labor.” Here is brief explanation of why your practitioner is recommending this course of treatment.
Group B Strep affects approximately 20-25 % of all women. It is a bacteria that normally occurs in the vagina. It is not an “infection,” it is not an STD. When your baby passes through the vagina, he or she may become infected with this strep bacteria. GBS is an issue for your baby, it is causing no harm to your vagina. GBS is very dangerous for preterm infants and carries with it a 25% mortality rate. In term infants, the infection is not as dangerous, with only 5% mortality. Most infections present as pneumonia or septicemia. Obstetricians have been working for years to find a way to decrease these preventable infections.
The current CDC recommendations include culturing all women between 35 and 37 weeks of gestation. All patients who test positive should receive intrapartum (this means during labor) antibiotics. The antibiotic works best when it is administered at least four hours prior to delivery. In years past, women were given antibiotics when they cultured positive around 35 weeks. It was noted that the bacteria had often returned by the time they went into labor. The intrapartum treatment is the most effective treatment for reducing the risk of neonatal GBS infection.
The antibiotics are administered by IV when you are in labor. The most common antibiotic used is ampicillin. This has been proven to be safe during pregnancy. If patients are allergic to ampicillin, a substitution may be chosen. Many patients try to steer clear of antibiotics and medications during pregnancy. We respect and support this practice. Since neonatal GBS infection has such serious consequences, we feel that the administration of antibiotics in labor for women who are positive is worthwhile. If you have any further questions, please call and speak to one of the practitioners, we would love to provide more details.