Obstetrics - OB Tests and Procedures - Group B Strep

Group B Strep (GBS)

Group B streptococcus (also called beta strep, or GBS), is a very common type of bacteria. Ten to thirty percent of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria. Most often the bacteria are in the vagina or rectum. GBS bacteria are different from the type of bacteria that cause strep throat.

Healthy adults carrying GBS may not have any symptoms or problems. However, sometimes the bacteria can cause an infection in the uterus, bladder, kidneys, or, rarely, the brain (meningitis). These infections in adults are usually not serious and can be treated with antibiotics. But a baby can get very sick and even die if the mother has untreated GBS. 

GBS can be found by testing urine or swabbing the cervix, vagina, or rectum. The samples of fluid are cultured in a lab. A test result is positive if beta strep bacteria are found in the culture. The test is negative if the bacteria are not found. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women have a GBS culture in the 35th to 37th weeks of pregnancy.

If your tests for beta strep are positive, you will probably not be treated until you are in labor. During labor you will be given intravenous (IV) antibiotics. If you were treated earlier in the pregnancy, the bacteria could come back again before the baby is born.


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