Spreading Awareness On Group B Strep

Group B Strep infection is a condition caused by the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria and though the bacteria is considered harmless in adults, it can be critical for babies, especially newborns. The GBS bacteria can be found in both men and women and is typically clustered in the digestive and reproductive tracts.

What Is Group B Strep?

Studies show that nearly one in four pregnant women show GBS colonies in their system, which may or may not manifest in their babies. But babies under the age of 6 months stand a higher risk of infection because of their low immunity levels and if infected, GBS can be very critical.

The GBS infection can remain suppressed in women for long periods and surface suddenly, so it is essential to get tested during pregnancy and prevent passing the infection to the baby. Women with GBS infections are often given antibiotics during labor and delivery to prevent the spread of infection.

This is imperative because GBS infections in babies could lead to serious conditions like pneumonia, meningitis and bacteremia (infection in the bloodstream). Fortunately, when detected on time, GBS infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Spare Your Baby From A Group B Strep Infection

There are three phases associated with Group B Strep infections in babies:

  • Pre-natal onset GBS:

Group B Strep that impacts babies before birth could, unfortunately, cause miscarriages, still-births, premature delivery and even lifelong disabilities. That’s why pregnant women are recommended to do urine cultures during their pregnancy, to rule out GBS infections. Some symptoms to look for would be irritation, a burning sensation around the vagina and unusual discharge, which can often be misjudged as a yeast infection.

  • Early-onset GBS:

GBS infections that occur within the first week after a baby’s birth is called early-onset GBS. Women diagnosed with Group B Strep during pregnancy are treated with antibiotics during labor and delivery to avoid the early-onset conditions in the child. But, several cases go unnoticed and if a baby does get infected, it is imperative to have it treated immediately. Some of the symptoms to look for in the baby include high pitched, uncontrollable crying, projectile vomiting, fever, refusal to feed, tender skin and difficult breathing.

  • Late-onset GBS:

GBS infections occurring after the first week, but within the first few months after delivery are tagged as late-onset and may present symptoms including lethargy, irritability, lack of interest in food, fever and difficulty breathing. While breast milk may provide the baby with immunity, breastmilk from an infected mother may not help.

Older adults or individuals with other chronic conditions like diabetes may face complications due to GBS infections. These could include cellulitis, urinary tract infections, endocarditis and meningitis.

July is designated as Group B Strep awareness month to help spread information about the disease, precautionary steps that pregnant women can take, symptoms to look for and available treatment options. So, do not put off your doctor’s visit in case you think that either you or your baby may be infected by the GBS bacteria.

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What Is Group B Strep? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.groupbstrepinternational.org/what-is-group-b-strep.html

Prenatal-onset GBS Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.groupbstrepinternational.org/-what-is-group-b-strepprenatal-onset-3.html

Early-onset GBS Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.groupbstrepinternational.org/early-onset-gbs-disease.html

Prenatal-onset GBS Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.groupbstrepinternational.org/-what-is-group-b-strepprenatal-onset-3.html

Late-onset GBS Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.groupbstrepinternational.org/late-onset-gbs-disease.html

Group B strep disease. (2018, January 10). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/group-b-strep/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351735