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Pregnancy Weeks 33-37 - Page 8

Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter
Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter - Checking It Out

Group B strep

Group B streptococcus (GBS) are bacteria found in the lower genital tract of as many as 25 percent of all women. GBS infection usually causes no problems in women before pregnancy, but can cause serious illness in the mother during pregnancy. GBS may cause chorioamnionitis (a severe infection of the placental tissues) and postpartum infection. Urinary tract infections caused by GBS can lead to preterm labor and birth. GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns, including pneumonia and meningitis. Newborn babies contract the infection during pregnancy or from the mother's genital tract during labor and delivery.

Because this is such a serious infection, all women are screened for GBS between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. The test is simple and does not hurt. A sterile cotton swab is used to collect a sample from the vagina and the rectum. This is sent to a laboratory for testing. If the GBS culture is negative within five weeks of birth, no special procedures or treatments are needed.

Pregnant women who carry GBS are given antibiotics through the vein (IV) at the time of labor or when their water breaks to prevent GBS bacteria from being passed to the newborn. Women with GBS urinary tract infections and women who have previously given birth to an infant with early-onset GBS disease will be given antibiotics during labor.

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