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Labor and Birth

What is Group B Strep (GBS)?

By January 3, 2013January 30th, 2023No Comments

Group B Strep or GBS, is a bacteria that lives in the intestines, urinary and genital tracts of many healthy people. It is generally not serious in adults but can be life-threatening to a newborn. Most adults do not have symptoms, but occasionally will develop an infection, such as a bladder infection or urinary tract infection.


The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that all pregnant women be screened between 35-37 weeks of their pregnancies to determine if they are carriers of GBS. The pregnant woman’s vaginal and rectal areas are swabbed during the screening. According to The March of Dimes and the CDC, approximately 25% of pregnant women are found to be colonized with GBS.


Options for testing and treating GBS vary depending on birthplace and region. In many hospitals the standard treatment for a GBS positive mother is IV antibiotics repeatedly throughout labor.

Some question the impact the IV antibiotics will have on the newborn baby and the incidence of thrush during nursing in both the infant and the mother.

In some parts of the world a Chlorhexidine rinse is done during labor or even before labor to rinse the vaginal area.

Talk to your care provider about what your options are regarding both the testing and the treatment of group B strep. If birthing in the hospital, discuss with your care provider your various options and how you and the baby will be treated. If you are birthing at home, discuss with your care provider what will happen in case of transfer if you have not been tested for GBS.

Be sure to further research the likelihood of transfer to the baby and the known risks to the baby of standard treatment.


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