Group B Strep Test During Pregnancy

4 min read

Group B strep test is also known as GBS or Streptococcus. Generally, it is a kind of bacteria that is found in the vaginas of many women. This type of bacteria is also found in the digestive system and reproductive characteristics. Such bacteria are not harmful but one should know from where the bacteria comes and goes in our bodies. It is because, though these bacteria are not harmful, they can affect pregnant women at the time of labor. So, it is important to take a strep B test during pregnancy. The infected baby needs treatment immediately so that it can recover from GBS completely. So, now, you must be eager to know what is group B strep test? Keep reading further to know everything about the test.

gbs test

What is a Group B Strep Test?

Group B strep is not harmful but it can cause serious problems or illnesses in newborn babies if the mother has a group B strep. So, in order to avoid this serious illness in infant babies, strep B test during pregnancy is important to find out bacteria present in pregnant women.

Usually, strep testing during pregnancy is not provided to every woman. GBS testing is only done on those women who had it in the previous pregnancy. In other words, routine testing is a contentious topic in many countries and that’s the reason why the GBS test is not recommended for all pregnant women because there is a majority of cases in which women carry bacteria that is not harmful to their babies. Only those pregnant women are tested who have strong symptoms of having been infected.

What are the Main Health Issues Related to Group B Strep?

It is completely normal to have group B strep in pregnant women. It is usually found in women’s bodies, that is, around 25 to 30 percent in the vagina, rectal area, or intestine.

However, sometimes, group B strep can cause serious health issues at the time of pregnancy. Some of the issues are:

  1. Lifetime infection in the blood
  2. Bacteria in the blood
  3. Infections
  4. Inflammation
  5. Infection of the membrane after delivery
  6. High fever after delivery
  7. Rupture for more than 18 hours

During birth, newborn babies get infected with the bacteria either directly from the bacteria or from the mother. It is estimated that about 50% of GBS mothers will transfer bacteria to their newborn at the time of pregnancy. Although not all babies are affected by the bacteria, according to some statistics, it has been recorded, that out of 100 babies only 1 % get infected by GBS.

 Treatment Advised by Doctors:

There are times that when a pregnant woman goes through a GBS testing procedure and is found to be positive, it is considered harmless until it enters the newborn baby.

According to gynecologists, it has been recommended to keep screening for at least 35 to 37 weeks. During this week, doctors will clean the rectum and vagina. However, group strep B testing doesn’t need these screening tests if:

      1. The woman had already tested GBS at the time of the urine test
      2. Previous pregnancy had GBS infection which transfers into newborn
      3. She had experienced any symptoms of GBS in the past
  • If these three cases occur then doctors will treat pregnant women with antibiotics at the time of delivery to avoid transmission of bacteria.
  • Mostly, Ampicillin and Penicillin are IV antibiotics that have been used by doctors to treat group B strep during delivery.
  • These antibiotics will stop the bacteria to pass or transmit into the newborn at the time of birth. After GBS testing during pregnancy, if the status of GBS is unknown, C-section is not assured and for many other reasons, IV antibiotics are given.
  • However, if a pregnant woman is being tested positive for GBS and gets an infection such as UTI at the time of pregnancy, in such conditions, pregnant women get oral antibiotics. Moreover, during the delivery time, pregnant women will be getting IV antibiotics because oral antibiotics do not prevent the transmission of bacteria into infant babies right after birth.

group b strep test

Other Important Factors:

A pregnant woman needs to consider a few things in the last few weeks of delivery after she is found group strep B test positive:

  1. Enlighten yourself about the medication, so that you can figure out if you have any allergies related to that antibiotics. It would be easier for doctors to treat you if they know your drug allergies.
  2. It is important to inform your doctor if you develop or face any symptoms of urinary tract infections.
  3. Plan birth seriously because you need IV antibiotics during delivery.
  4. If your water breaks, immediately go to the hospital and remember to inform the hospital staff that you tested positive with group B strep testing during pregnancy so that they can quickly get you the necessary antibiotics.

Though all this procedure sounds scary and disturbing at the same time, there is nothing to worry about if everything is treated on time. Thus, always share your symptoms with the doctor so that a group strep B test can be done easily and caught before the bacteria get into newborn babies.

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