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International Group B Strep Awareness Month (July)

Pregnancy is a wonderful time during a woman's life, but one in four women are carriers of a deadly bacteria called Group B strep, or GBS. Group B strep is found in the digestive tract and birth canal of these women, but it poses no harm to the mother. The danger occurs when the baby becomes infected with GBS.

An infection with GBS will start as pneumonia, a blood infection, or meningitis (infection of the fluid/lining of the brain) in the newborn. Babies usually get GBS within the first 6 days of life, and those who survive can have lifelong problems like mental retardation, blindness, deafness, and cerebral palsy. If the baby gets the bacteria while still in the womb, it can cause a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death shortly after birth.

Women who carry GBS typically have no symptoms. The best way to protect your baby is to be screened for the bacteria during the first and third trimesters of all pregnancies, since it can come and go throughout a woman's life. Over half of all GBS infections occur when the mother has no risk factors.

How to protect your baby from GBS:

  • Get screened during the 1st and 3rd trimesters.
  • Avoid unnecessary, frequent, or forceful exams during pregnancy.
  • See your doctor promptly if you have signs of a vaginal infection.
  • Make sure to start IV antibiotics at least 4 hours before birth/C-section.
  • Some doctors give newborns a penicillin shot within 1 hour of birth to further reduce the risk of GBS. Some don't. Talk to your doctor about your options.
  • Breastfeeding can give the baby important antibodies to help fight off infection.

Only your doctor will know what is best for you and your baby, but it never hurts to ask! Talk to your doctor about GBS, especially if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant. For more information visit www.groupbstrepinternational.org or call Group B Strep International at (909) 620-7214.

Article provided by Teri Brown, Intern from James Madison University working with Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator of Community Wellness at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, relating to the information in this article, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.

UV Safety Month

Be Safe in the Summer Sun!

The summer months are known for being hot, Hot, HOT! There are excellent benefits to being outdoors in the sunlight, such as getting your daily intake of Vitamin D, but we must take precautions when in the summer rays. July is when summer is in full swing and it is also UV safety month! During the summertime, the sunlight's invisible Ultraviolet rays are three times as bright as they are in the winter. The sun can damage your skin in as little as fifteen minutes and the same sun that damages your skin, can also damage your eyes! UV rays can cause vision loss, cataracts, skin damage and possibly lead to cancer because our skin and eyes are sensitive to sunlight and can be overexposed if they are not protected. 30 SPF sun block, UV protective clothing and sunglasses that guard against UVA and UVB rays are important investments for your health. Listed below are some great ways to safeguard yourself while you and your family are out in the summer sun:

  • Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours, between 10am and 4pm sun is brightest.

These tips, provided by the CDC, can help you stay safe while out in the UV rays but ultimately help you have the most amount of fun in the sun! For more information on skin cancer prevention visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/prevention or for more on protecting your eyes from UV rays visit http://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/sun

Article provided by Bethany Bowen, Intern from James Madison University working with Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator of Community Wellness at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN related to the information above, please call (540) 332- 4988 or (540) 932-4988.