July is Group B Strep Awareness Month. As such, it’s definitely timely and fitting that both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have just published new recommendations on testing and treatment for this type of infection in pregnant women and babies. These new recommendations will update and replace the 2010 guidelines on prevention of Group B Strep from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Group B streptococcus, aka Group B strep or GBS is a type of bacteria that can be carried by both men and women. It’s usually harmless for adults under age 60, but it can be passed along from mom to baby during birth, which can cause serious illness. There are two types of GBS – early onset (the first 24-48 hours after birth) and late onset (during the first week of life and up to three months). With this in mind, the new recommendations include the following:
- Universal maternal screening for Group B strep
- Antibiotics for the mother to prevent transmission of Group B strep to the baby before or during labor and delivery
- Placing a higher risk on preterm infants (fewer than 37 weeks) versus full-term infants (about 40 weeks)
- Recommendations for GBS diagnosis in infants
- Treatment of infants with confirmed GBS using Penicillin G or ampicillin (second choice)
As a woman looking to get pregnant or a mom-to-be, it’s always a good idea to be informed with knowledge about potential infections and the best ways to protect yourself and your baby. But don’t stress! You can have a conversation with your healthcare provider about Group B strep, screening, prevention, risks, treatment and care. At this time, there is no maternal GBS vaccination. We previously wrote about some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers about GBS in a previous blog post. You may find this helpful.
This article is not intended to be used as medical advice, but instead for thought and consideration. If you have further questions about Group B Strep, please contact your healthcare provider.