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International Group B Strep Awareness Month (July)

July is International Group B Strep Awareness Month! Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive tract and birth canal in about 1 in 4 pregnant women. It is important to raise awareness of this strain of strep because a mother can pass it to her baby during delivery or during the baby's first 6 months of life. Group B Strep affects 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. Although this is relatively rare, the outcome if infected can be severe.

How can you find out if you have a Group B Strep infection?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a routine screening for all pregnant women. The screening should take place between the 35th and 37th week of pregnancy. If you test positive for GBS this simply means that you are a carrier. Not every baby born to a mother who tests positive for GBS will become ill. The following symptoms indicate you are at a higher risk of passing GBS to your baby. These symptoms include: fever during labor, urinary tract infection during pregnancy, rupture of membrane before 37 weeks or 18 hours before delivery. If these symptoms are present, you should consult your physician.

There are two different types of GBS, early and late-onset, with varying symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of early onset GBS typically occur within hours of delivery. Early onset symptoms are characterized by: Breathing problems, heart and blood pressure instability, g gastrointestinal and kidney problems. The most common complications include Sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. Newborns with early-onset are treated with intravenous antibiotics.

Late-onset of GBS could be a result of delivery, or the baby may become infected due to contact with someone who has GBS. There are currently no prevention protocols in place to help prevent late-onset GBS disease. Symptoms for late-onset will usually appear within a week or a few months of delivery. The most common symptom is meningitis.

There are many ways to help protect babies from Group B Strep. For more detailed information visit Group B Strep International at

Article provided by Emery Shekiro, Intern from James Madison University working with Community Outreach at Augusta Health.