Group B Strep

What Is Group B Strep?

Group B streptococcus, also known as group B strep or GBS, is a common bacterium that many adults carry without any symptoms. But if you carry GBS and are pregnant, you can pass it to your newborn during delivery. In newborns, group B strep can cause dangerous – and potentially even life-threatening – complications. There are two types of group B strep in newborns. Early-onset is used to describe the condition when it occurs in the first week of a baby’s life. Late-onset GBS develops in babies between 1 week and 3 months of age.

What Are the Symptoms of Group B Strep in Newborns?

Be alert to any of the following symptoms in your newborn that may indicate that he or she is infected with group B strep:

  • Lethargy (meaning the baby will difficult to rouse or seem sleepy all the time)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Irritability
  • Blueish skin tone

How Is Group B Strep Diagnosed and Treated?

You get tested for group B strep during the last trimester of your pregnancy. Your obstetrician will perform this test at one of your regular visits. If you test positive, your obstetrician will give you an intravenous (IV) antibiotic as soon as you go into labor. This will help prevent you from passing the infection to your baby during delivery. If you tested positive and your baby exhibits symptoms, your baby may be given antibiotics. The treatment – for newborns is typically a course of IV antibiotics, such as penicillin or ampicillin.

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