Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacterium which up to 1 in 4 women have in the vagina. Most women will be unaware of its presence and it is not necessary to take antibiotics to try to eradicate it.
Although GBS does not cause any problems for the woman, it is one of the more common causes of bacterial infection in newborn babies. Whilst many babies are exposed to the bacteria without becoming unwell, 1 in 1750 newborn babies may develop a GBS infection. In a unit the size of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, this means 3 babies a year.
At Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust pregnant mothers are not routinely tested for the GBS infection. This is because many women are likely to have a different result by the time they give birth.
If a mother wants to be tested for the GBS infection, further information can be found on the GBS Support website.
During labour you will be given intravenous antibiotics (penicillin or an alternative) via a drip over a period of approximately 20 minutes if:
Most GBS infections in newborn babies can be prevented by giving you antibiotics into a vein in labour. The first dose should be given at least 4 hours before the birth of your baby.
Babies born after 37 weeks:
If the antibiotics were given 4 hours or more before delivery:
If the antibiotics were not given or were given less than 4 hours before the birth:
Babies born before 37 weeks:
you may need to stay in the hospital with your baby after the birth, a little longer than you had planned—up to 5 days, or more, if your baby needs a full course of antibiotics. Usually you will both be on the postnatal ward. If your baby is unwell, he or she may need to be on the neonatal unit.
At least 60% of GBS infections in babies are apparent at birth; around 90% are apparent within baby’s first 12 hours of life, with most GBS infections being detected and treated before you and your baby go home. However, a small number (10%) of affected babies still develop GBS after going home.
Signs of GBS infection are:
If your baby shows any of these signs, call your GP, Community Midwife or Health Visitor immediately. If you feel your baby is too unwell to wait for the arrival of one of the above, go straight to your nearest Accident and Emergency/ Casualty Department.
If you require translation of this leaflet, please contact either:
Or you can access the leaflet in 14 different languages via the Group B Strep website.
If you want to ask anything else related to your treatment please speak to the Antenatal Clinic or Labour Ward.
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Prevention of early onset neonatal Group b Streptococcal disease. Guideline No. 36. September 2017.
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