Strep B Test During Pregnancy?
Group B Streptococcus (also known as GBS or Group B Strep) is a bacteria that lives in your body. 33% of us carry GBS without even knowing, some women can carry GBS in their vagina and would not know as there are no symptoms. During labour GBS can be passed on from you to your baby and although it is very rare it can make your new born baby seriously ill or in some cases it can cause death.
GBS is the most common cause of infection in newborns and between 300 – 350 babies develop a GBS infection each year. The infection can then lead to something called Neonatal sepsis which takes place as a result of the body attacking itself when trying to fight off the infection.
Facts about GBS
Most babies exposed to GBS are healthy and suffer no illness of infection. Only 1 in 2000 babies suffer with the infection. Sadly of the babies that do suffer with the infection 1 in 10 of those babies will die. You should be checked for GBS before labour and the chance of it spreading to your baby is very rare if you have the correct medication before delivery. I thought that because I had a caesarean I would be ok however GBS can still be passed on to your baby, I never had a GBS test in pregnancy. Please ensure you speak to the midwife about being tested before delivery. A lot of the time GBS is not discussed and people are unaware of the dangers.
Am I carrying GBS
Your midwife should discuss GBS with you at one of your appointments however, if you midwife was anything like mine it was not discussed at all and in fact I did not know it existed until after George was born and it was on daytime TV. I was really disappointed with my midwife for not discussing this with me. There is a simple strep b test during pregnancy that can be taken. The strep b tests are not often recommended as just because you test positive to does not mean that you will test positive later in pregnancy or closer to birth. I do think that everyone should be aware of strep b and the possible effects and a test should be offered.
Risk of Developing A GBS Infection
There are a number of factors that determine how likely it is of your baby developing a GBS infection.
- If you go in to labour prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy
- If your waters break 18 hours or more before you give birth
- If a previous step b test during pregnancy came back positive
- If you have a fever of 38 degrees C or more
If your doctor feels you are high risk your doctor will immediately give you antibiotics via drip in your arm to reduce the risk. These are given before labour from when your waters break until your baby’s birth.
If you are having a planned caesarean you will only be given antibiotics if your waters have broken or your labour has already started.
Symptoms of a GBS infection in a baby
- Poor feeding
- Making strange noises like grunting
- Low blood pressure
- Very high or very low temperature
- Very high or very low breathing rate