Group B Strep (GBS) is normally found in 15-45% of all healthy adult women. Approximately 50% of colonized mothers pass this bacterium to their babies during pregnancy. However, only one of every 100-200 babies born to a GBS-colonized mother actually develops the GBS infection. This article provides information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of GBS.
Group B strep is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus agalactiae, which is commonly found in the intestine, vagina, rectal areas, and throat. This bacterium is not supposed to be harmful, however, it can cause many complications, especially if a pregnant woman is infected. The complications include sepsis infections, pneumonia, meningitis, preterm delivery, and infections of the amniotic fluid or uterus in the mother-to-be. This condition can be avoided by taking appropriate care and diagnosing the disease on time. GBS pregnancy affects a large population group.
- Not all pregnant females suffer from this condition, however, if the previous baby was infected with the GBS disease, then the second child also is also at a high risk to be infected.
- Since GBS is associated with the vagina, it commonly results in the urinary tract infections, resulting in GBS in the baby as well.
- If the disease is left undiagnosed, then the baby might die inside the womb, without the mother being aware of it.
- High fever during labor and ruptured membranes before approximately 18 hours from the delivery could also lead to GBS.
- If the mother-to-be happens to suffer from any chronic medical conditions like cancer or diabetes, then the risk of infections and complications increases.
- GBS can be transmitted by contact and can easily be passed from the infected mom’s uterus to the baby.
In many cases, even though females were carriers, no symptoms were observed. Generally GBS infects the baby before or after delivery. If the infection occurs in the first week, then it is termed as early-onset disease. If the infection occurs 1 week to 3 months of age, it is termed as late-onset disease. Following are a few symptoms of this condition:
- Breathing problems
- Abnormalities of the heart rate and blood pressure
- Poor feeding
- Uneasy feeling
The diagnosis of this condition at the right time is very important. A test needs to be carried out by taking the swab of the pregnant woman’s vaginal or rectal areas. The result would be obtained within a span of 24 hours. GBS can also be diagnosed from the urine sample. If tested positive, the doctor recommends antibiotic therapy, either orally or intravenous (in case of baby).
If the pregnant woman is allergic to certain antibiotics, then the doctor will suggest alternative medications. Proper diagnosis reduces the chances of the baby getting infected, and helps the woman to deal with this life-threatening condition. To prevent this infection, the pregnant woman should undergo all the routine tests and screening that are recommended during pregnancy. Additionally, she should maintain a healthy lifestyle and hygiene.
GBS pregnancy is a fatal condition, which could lead to the death of the newborn. Vaccine treatment has not been developed yet, however, it could be a good treatment option in the near future.
P.S: Group B strep is not to be confused with Group A strep, as the latter causes strep throat.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.