Group B Strep Infection And Pregnancy

Group B Strep Infection And Pregnancy


What is Strep B Infection in Pregnancy

Group B strep (GBS) is a widely spread type of bacteria that may cause infection. Usually GBS is not dangerous for adults. However, irrespective of the fact that GBS is unlikely to harm a pregnant woman, it may be very dangerous for her baby. During the process of labor, a baby may be infected with it. Approximately 25 % of women are the carriers of strep.

Even though there are a lot of people who are the carrier of the infection, they may not know about it. In case of adults, GBS doesn’t usually have symptoms. However, in some cases, it may cause infections of the urinary bladder or of the urinary tract (UTI).

How a Strep Infection May Be Passed on Someone

GBS bacteria live in the intestines, urinary tract and reproductive tracts. They are naturally developed in the organism of a man. That means that you can’t get infected with the infection through foods, water or clothes that you touch. This infection also can’t be passed on you by someone when you contact with him or her. You can’t get infected with strep if you have sex with an infected person.

Diagnosing Strep

If you want to check whether you have strep, you should ask your gynecologist to make a test on strep when it is the 35th -37th week of pregnancy. The test is easy and painless to carry out. A doctor will just take a sample from your vagina and straight intestine. The samples are then sent to the laboratory. The results are available within 1-2 days.

Treating Strep in Case of a Pregnant Woman

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If the strep test results turn out to be positive, then, you’ll be prescribed antibiotics not long before the labor. There are 2 options: a medicine dropper or intravenous induction. The antibiotics will prevent your baby from getting infected. As a rule, an ideal time for the induction of the antibiotics is, at least, 4 hours before labor.

Penicillin is the best antibiotic for treating strep. Doctors also use another antibiotic very often – ampicillin. Both the antibiotics are safe for a woman and her baby. However, in case of some women (1 case out of 25), penicillin may cause a slight allergic reaction (most important it’s a rash). That’s why if you know that you have an allergic reaction for penicillin, you need to necessary tell your doctor about it!

If you have GBS, but during the labor it is planned that a procedure of cesarean section will be carried out (you know that you won’t wait for contractions and your labor waters to break), you do not need antibiotics.

The Influence of Strep on Pregnancy

If you do not treat strep during pregnancy, the risk of the following cases may increase:

  • birth membranes breaking earlier than they should;
  • premature birth;
  • a still born baby.

GBS may also cause UTI (urinary tract infection). During the course of pregnancy, UTI may cause fever, pain and burning while urination. Sometimes, UTI doesn’t have any symptoms. However, if you have a UTI, your doctor will detect it on the basis of your urine test result. You make this test during one of your visits to your doctor.

The Symptoms of the Infection in Case of a Newborn Baby

In case of newborn babies, the symptoms of strep infection may not necessarily occur right after he or she is born. This depends on the type of infection that has been passed on the baby.

There are two types of GBS infection:

  1. Early beginning of the infection – the symptoms of such like infection include fever, breathing problems, a constant sleepiness within the first 7 days of a baby’s life (most often, during the first day). An early beginning of GBS may lead to pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. Approximately a half of all GBS infections has an early beginning.
  2. Late beginning of the infection – in this case, there are the following symptoms: cough, stuffy nose, problems with eating, fewer, sleepiness or cramps. The symptoms occur 3 months after the baby is born. Very often, this type of infection leads to sepsis or meningitis.

What Problems May Newborns Have Because of Strep

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The babies that are infected with strep may suffer from one or several illnesses.

The list of the most often occurring illnesses includes:

  • meningitis (the liquid and the lining around the brain get infected);
  • pneumonia (lungs inflammation);
  • sepsis (blood infection).

In case of newborns, all these illnesses may threaten their life. The majority of babies that get the necessary treatment manage to recover. However, even in case they get treatment, approximately 5 % of babies die. Keep in mind that these are premature babies that more often die.

GBS infection may lead to the situation when a baby will have health problems also later on. For example, approximately 25 % of babies that had a case of meningitis caused by GBS infection may have the following illnesses and problems later on:

  • infantile cerebral paralysis (a group of illnesses that cause problems with brain development. These problems influence on the ability of a person to move and keep balance and posture while moving);
  • problems with hearing;
  • problems when studying;
  • outer deformities.

It is really important to try and prevent the newborn from getting infected! If a newborn is infected, you need to urgently start treating him or her. The baby is usually prescribed intravenous inductions of antibiotics.

After Labor Complications Because of Strep Infection

GBS may cause a prenatal infection (uterus infection). This may happen during the course of pregnancy or after it.

The symptoms of a uterus infection are the following:

  • a high body temperature (fewer);
  • pain in the belly;
  • the heartbeat becomes more frequent (during the course of pregnancy, the heartbeat of a baby may also become more frequent).

If a case of uterus infection that is caused by group B strep has been confirmed, you need to get a necessary treatment (antibiotics are used). Then, as a rule, the infection goes away within several days.

Video: Group B Strep in Pregnancy

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