As women approach the end of their pregnancy one test their doctor or midwife will likely perform is the test for Group B Streptococcus or just Group B Strep as it is known to most. Group B Strep is a bacterial infection that is found in the rectum or vagina of a pregnant woman. While it is commonly found in a large number of pregnant women that are otherwise considered healthy, it can cause major problems if passed on to newborn babies and in some cases, even death. Here is a look at what to expect from the Group B Strep test as well as treatment options if one tests positive.
To test for Group B Strep your doctor or midwife will do a swab of the vagina and rectum between the 35th and 37th weeks of pregnancy. The test although uncomfortable for some is perfectly safe and painless. They will then have the swab tested to see if the mom-to-be is positive or negative for it. Generally by the time the pregnant woman has her next doctor’s appointment she will be able to find out the results. If is the first pregnancy for and the patient is negative for it they will do nothing. However if the patient has test positive for Group B Strep before or for the first time the doctor will then discuss treatment options.
If a pregnant woman tests positive for Group B Strep or has done so in the past the doctor will likely recommend giving the mom antibiotics once they are in labor. These antibiotics are administered through an IV and generally pose no risk to the unborn baby or the mother and greatly reduce the risk of the baby contracting the Group B Strep. According to studies, babies only have a 1 in 4000 chance of getting Group B Strep or suffering from the side effects of it if the mother is given the antibiotics whereas for moms who do not get the antibiotics or who opt out have a 1 in 200 chance.
Many pregnant women have asked whether they should have the antibiotics before labor starts however medical studies have shown that unless the mother is in labor it will do no good as the bacteria can easily come back which would just require the mom to need the antibiotics again. While there are some studies going on about other ways to treat Group B Strep, there have been no medical findings that support the idea that anything but the antibiotics will help reduce the risk.
Group B Strep may have a very negative effect on newborn babies as early as a few hours after they are born. Some common complications from it include but are not limited to Meningitis, major breathing problems, pneumonia, as well as Sepsis. If the mother is not able to get the antibiotics during labor doctors will keep a close eye on the newborn to ensure they do not suffer from any major problems.
Source Cited: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/groupbstrepinfection.html