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HEALTHIER YOU: Protecting your baby from Group B strep

July 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Health

Protecting your baby from Group B strep

BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES, OB/GYN

DR. ANNETTE MAYES

Group B strep (GBS) is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women. About 1 in 4 pregnant women “carry” or are “colonized” with GBS. Carrying GBS does not mean that you have an infection or are unclean — anyone can carry it.

GBS most commonly causes infection in the blood (sepsis), the fluid and lining of the brain (meningitis), and lungs (pneumonia). Some GBS survivors experience handicaps such as blindness, deafness, mental challenges, and/or cerebral palsy.

Although most women do not have symptoms, GBS can cause vaginal burning, vaginal irritation, and unusual discharge — which may be mistaken for a yeast infection and treated incorrectly. If you have vaginitis symptoms, see your care provider promptly for an exam and possible GBS testing.

GBS can also cause bladder infections, with or without symptoms. Your provider should do a urine culture for GBS and other types of bacteria (this is not the standard urine dipstick check) at the first prenatal visit.

These are some ways your unborn baby can be affected by GBS:

GBS can infect your baby even before your water breaks.

GBS can cause preterm labor, causing your baby to be born too early.

GBS infection can also cause your water to break prematurely without labor starting, causing your baby to lose a significant layer of protection.

It is thought that babies are most often infected with GBS as they pass through the birth canal. GBS infections within the first six days of life are called, “early-onset.”

Babies can become infected with GBS by sources other than the mother. GBS infections occurring between 7 days to 3 months of age are called, “late-onset.” Although less common, “very-late-onset” may occur after 3 months of age.

You can help protect your unborn baby by asking for a urine culture for GBS and other types of bacteria at your first prenatal visit. If you have urinary symptoms or a significant level of GBS in your urine, your health provider should prescribe oral antibiotics at the time of diagnosis.

While GBS does not usually cause an infection when found in the vagina, it can cause an infection to your baby as the baby passes through the vaginal canal during birth. GBS is routinely checked for in mothers during the last 5 weeks of pregnancy and if found should be treated during labor in order to protect your baby.

For more information, call Las Vegas All Women’s Care at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane #165 in Las Vegas.

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