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The Fibromyalgic Pregnancy and Beyond - Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

Group B Strep is a common bacteria that can be found in many women, most commonly in the vagina or rectum.  It is not routinely screened for during pregnancy but can sometimes cause serious medical problems for your baby.  Most babies who acquire this infection from their mothers do not have any problems. Only 1-2 percent of all babies who are exposed to GBS during pregnancy become infected, however it is the most common cause of bacterial infection in newborn babies.

 Affected babies can develop early infections during the 24 – 48 hours of life and sometimes after this period. As with any newborn you should monitor them for signs of being unwell, raised temperature, extreme drowsiness, lack of appetite and the like.  If you have any concerns report them to your midwife or GP immediately.  The early infections can be quite severe and may affect your baby’s lungs, blood, spinal cord or brain which can lead to death in a small percentage of babies. Later infections can also be severe and usually manifest themselves as meningitis which can have long-term effects.

 If GBS is detected during pregnancy, usually when a swab is taken if you’ve ‘broken’ your waters, then treatment can be offered.  This treatment of pregnant women with GBS can’t always prevent infection in the baby. A pregnant woman can become positive again for GBS after treatment and before the baby is born. The best way to prevent GBS infection is the use of intravenous antibiotics during labour. Certain risk factors increase the chance that a baby of a mother with GBS will become infected. These women may benefit from treatment with antibiotics during labour and delivery.

 Mothers at increased risk for GBS are those with:

  • Fever during labour
  • Previous child with GBS infection
  • Prolonged ruptured membranes (‘broken waters’). The definition of prolonged varies between hospitals so enquire as to what your hospital’s policy is if it became necessary to do so.
  • Premature rupture of membranes (before reaching 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Premature labour (less than 37 weeks of pregnancy)

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