July 2020 is International Group B Strep Awareness Month. It’s important to know what group B strep is and how you can protect your baby from it. Many people don’t know what group B strep is or if they have it, because it’s a silent infection that goes undetected until pregnancy.
Group B strep can be quite dangerous to your baby. But it’s also reassuring to know that we screen our pregnant patients for group B strep and give you treatment if needed, which can protect your baby.
To share more about group B strep, Dr. Alan Patterson offers this informative guide.
What is group B strep?
Contrary to what you might think, group B strep is not the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Strep throat is caused by the group A bacterial strain instead.
Group B strep is also not a sexually transmitted disease. However, it’s a common bacteria that’s present in the vagina and rectum of about 25% of women. It’s harmless to adults and has no symptoms, so you probably won’t know if you have it.
However, it can be passed to your baby during childbirth, at which point it can become very harmful to your baby.
How to know if you need to be tested
Group B strep testing is commonly performed in late pregnancy, usually after 36 weeks. It’s done much like a Pap smear, in which a swab is inserted into the lower end of your vagina and rectum. This sample is sent off to the lab for evaluation. For about 75% of women, the results are negative.
The recommendation is for all women to be tested around 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. The reason we don’t screen at earlier prenatal visits is that group B strep can come and go throughout your pregnancy. Screening for it late in pregnancy gives a good idea of what your status will be at the time of birth.
However, you won’t need the test if you had group B strep during another pregnancy. At that point, you’re likely to be treated as though you do have it.
How we protect your baby
If we know that you have group B strep, you’ll receive IV antibiotics during labor to make sure you don’t pass the bacteria to your baby. You may also receive antibiotics if one of your urine samples during prenatal visits anytime during your pregnancy came back as positive for the bacteria.
If you’re positive for group B strep and you don’t get antibiotics during labor, it can have serious negative effects on your baby’s health.
Sometimes there are situations in which you’ll receive IV antibiotics proactively during labor, such as when you have:
- The onset of preterm labor (before 36 weeks)
- A fever over 100.4℉ during labor
- A long delay (more than 18 hours) between the time of your water breaking and delivery
IV antibiotics are very successful at destroying the bacteria so that your baby doesn’t become infected during the passage through the birth canal.
If you have any questions about group B strep, you can get reassuring answers from us. Group B strep is common, but its consequences are preventable. Call Alan Patterson, MD, in Coral Springs, Florida, or send us a message online.
A few reminders:
1. We’re still seeing obstetrics patients in our office to ensure that our pregnant patients are getting the care they need. If you’re pregnant, please call us to book your appointment today.
We are also seeing patients in our office that are having gynecological problems or emergencies.
- Here's what we're doing to ensure the safety of our patients who come into the office for their appointments:
We ensure that patients are not experiencing respiratory issues when they visit our office.
We sanitize all services on a regular basis.
We’re wearing masks and gloves to reduce the probability of virus transmission.
We’re washing our hands for 20 seconds after every interaction we have, inside and outside of the office.
Please note: Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.
- We’re offering telemedicine appointments for the following conditions: yeast infections, UTIs, birth control consults, vaginitis (vaginal infections), hormone replacement therapy consults, premenopause, menopause, amenorrhea, and abnormal periods.
Please call us to determine if your health concern qualifies for a telemedicine appointment.