Prenatal Health — Group Beta Strep (GBS)

Group Beta Strep (Streptococcus agalactiae), or GBS, is a type of bacteria that most of the time, is part of the normal bacterial makeup ("flora") that simply lives on the skin of the genitals as well as in the gastrointestinal tract not causing any problems. In vulnerable populations, however, such as in pregnant women and newborns, it can be a potential cause of infection.

During pregnancy, the urine is screened for infection, including GBS, typically around 12 weeks gestation. Because this bacteria can come and go from the skin, GBS is again screened for toward the end of pregnancy, typically at 36 weeks gestation, by a small cotton swab sample collected from the external genitalia and around the anus.

If you are found to be positive, during labor an intravenous (IV) antibiotic is given that takes approximately 30 minutes to infuse. If delivery has not occurred in another 4 hours, another dose will be administered using the same IV site. The antibiotic used is one that is considered safe for you and your fetus. Antibiotic administration during labor for GBS is important to protect you from chorioamniotis (infection of the placenta and bag of water) as well as your newborn from pneumonia, meningitis, and endocarditis.

How you test for GBS will influence your physician's plan on when to come in to the hospital to be evaluated in early labor. If you test positive, it will be advised that you head into the hospital sooner rather than later to help ensure that the antibiotic does indeed get a chance to be administered before delivery.

Note: In these cases, it is especially important to notify us if your water has broken (large gush of water-like fluid) or if you suspect that it has broken (small continuous or persistent gushes or a trickle) to avoid infection.