Monday, August 15, 2011

Talk to Me - Group B Streptococcus

So last week my Doctor ran a screening test for Group B Streptococcus (GBS).  This is done around week 35 and is done by taking a cotton swab and getting a culture, down there.  Last week at my Doctor appointment they told me I was positive for this.

So let’s talk about Group B Streptococcus because as of a few days ago I had no idea what this was and why I was getting tested.

What is Group B Streptococcus (GBS)?
It is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. This bacteria is normally found in about 25 % of all healthy, adult women.  Group B strep colonization is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD).  Most women have no idea they have this and it is not harmful to them at all. 

If it is not harmful why do the test for it?
If you test positive for GBS this simply means that you are a carrier.  A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery and if the baby catches it can become very very ill.  Early onset GBS is usually known within the first 24 hours and is the most severe.  Late onset is usually found between 2 weeks and 3 months of the child’s birth and though will cause the child to be sick, is not as severe.  Either way, the child will need to be treated immediately if sick.

So since you are positive for it will your baby catch it?
No, not necessarily.  If properly treated it will greatly reduce the chances of your baby becoming ill.  Some statistics say 1 in 2000 others say 1 in 4000.  My Doctor just says it is very common and I shouldn’t worry :)

So how do they treat it?
During labor they will put the medicine directly into the IV to treat the mother and help protect the baby. 
So how do you feel about this news?
Well obviously if I had my preference I would prefer to not be positive for this.  However, I also know that this is fairly common and that the hospital knows what to do and will take all steps necessary to make sure that Henry is safe.  Yes, there is always a possibility that the medicine doesn’t work and he gets really sick.  But that is just like there is always a possibility that something else could happen during delivery or even after.  It is the scary reality that is associated with having a child.  For the most part, it is all out of my control and I cannot worry about it.  I know when he is born, we will both worry a bit until we know he is healthy….I am sure that is common among all new parents!  But at this point at least I know I am positive for it and there is something that can be done and that is all I can do right now.

So has anyone else been tested for this and diagnosed as positive for GBS?  Thoughts on it?

I just wanted to talk about it because I was so unfamiliar with it.  My mom had never heard of it and even women in the office didn’t know about it.  Not sure if it is something new they started testing for in the last 5-10 years or what.  It just got me curious!


  1. I haven't had any personal experience with GBS but what I do know is how common it is. Pregnant friends have dealt with it and it really didn't affect anything at all.

    Question. If you end up with a c section does that take your chances of passing it on to him zero?

  2. I was not Strep B positive so I can't add any personal experience, but right after I saw your post I saw this article link on Kellymom's facebook page:

    The basic idea is that often when you have to have an IV (like you will need to) the extra fluids can inflate the baby's initial "birth weight" stats. Then a few days later when they weigh him to make sure you can leave it may look like he has lost a lot of weight (scary) when in fact much of it was superfluous fluids.

    Consquently hospital staff/doctors may encourage moms to supplement or increase feedings because of a false weight scare. Of course the whole thing depends on a million little variations of the situation, but interesting to think about and maybe keep in the back of you (and T's) head.

  3. Nadja: (according to my Dr.) Yes, If I have a c-section and my water hasn't broke and I haven't gone into active labor then it is a zero chance to pass it. However, if I go into active labor & my water breaks I will still need the medicine even if I would have a c-section as a precaution.

    Grumbles: Thank you for the article, that is interesting! I didn't realize that and that is definitely good to know so we don't get scared if that happens.

  4. Lindsay10:19 AM

    I tested positive with my daugter back in Jauary 2004 but negative with my son in April 2010.

    It really was not a big deal at all. Since you have an iv anyway you don't even notice you're getting anything extra. The pain for me was that they wanted to observe the baby longer because of the positive result and I was ready to get home to my own bed.

  5. My boss said she tested positive with both of her sons, and they had no issues whatsoever (with the IV meds administered, of course). Seems like something that sounds scary but the medical field has well in hand. :) It's great that you're finding out more about it so you don't freak yourself out! I would just sit and freak out. :)

  6. I tested positive as well. The only thing I really remember about it was having the IV/antibiotics. Other than that, it didn't prove to be an issue at all.

    I do remember that was the first thing I said to the nurse when I got to the hospital though, "I was positive Group B, remember to give me the medicine for that!" Even though it was in my chart, I wanted to make sure I said it :)

    So try not to worry too much about it.

  7. I love Mickey D.

    Back when I had Lila (yes, in 2009) - they didn't yet TEST FOR IT IN CABO. [insert heavy sigh. Be thankful you didn't have your babies here.] That said, they just GIVE you antibiotics whether or not you need them and hope for the best.

    By the time I was pregnant for Vivienne, in 2010 -- they DID the test, but since I was a planned c-section, it wasn't relevant.

    I've known several friends who tested positive and all was well. Literally, not even a worry.


  8. I tested positive as well.

    It kind of was an issue for me though. The most effective antibiotic they can give you for it is penicillin, which OF COURSE I have an allergy to, so I got the 2nd best, whatever it was...

    Then the whole debacle with Joss testing positive for something, which was never identified, but they assumed it could have been GBS since I had tested positive. That led to the 10 day NICU stay, etc.

    Here's the thing - DO NOT use my story as a basis for ANYTHING, because, in the end, Joss only tested positive once, they couldn't replicate the positive test and they never could identify what she actually tested positive for. GBS is EASY to ID...they were forced to keep her and give her meds "just in case." (READ: I strongly, strongly believe she had a false positive, but there was nothing else that could be done about it. And even though I couldn't go home with my baby, I'm glad they took every precaution they could to keep her healthy)


    I think a majority of my friends tested positive for it, and every single baby I know is healthy. It isn't anything to worry about.

  9. One of my sister-in-laws had it and frankly the diagnosis did nothing more than freak her out. They did the IV thing and Nick was fine. Don't spend too much time worrying about it, you'll just upset yourself! Enjoy these last few weeks!

  10. THANK YOU!

    It is good to hear that this isn't as big a deal as what you may think it is, with the right treatment! I wasn't overly worried because I very much trust my Doctor, but there was concern in the back of my head about this just because I didn't know much about it!

    Definitely no worries now :)