Let's get one thing straight: Group B streptococci (GBS) is not a sore throat. (That's Group A strep.) GBS is a dangerous bacteria that lives inside the lower digestive tracts and genitals of 20 percent of pregnant women. It can cause a fever, flu-like symptoms, and uterine infections in mothers, and poses an even greater risk to newborns: Untreated, GBS can lead to meningitis, pneumonia, blood infection, and even death.
It’s estimated there are over 1,600 cases of infant GBS each year; most are early-onset GBS, which begin within 24 hours of delivery. But, with testing, monitoring and treatment, almost 90% of GBS cases could be prevented.
What you can do:
1. Get tested: Since 2002, the Centers for Disease Control have recommended a culture screening at 35 to 37 weeks. Results take a few days to return. A faster test is now available which returns results within an hour, and may be used around labor, but it may not be as accurate.
2. Be prepared: You will receive intravenous antibiotics during delivery if your test results are positive — or if you go into premature labor (three weeks or more before your due date) or your water breaks more than 12 hours before delivery. (Though it is less common, it is also possible for a baby to contract GBS through c-section delivery.)
3. Watch for symptoms: GBS is easily treated with antibiotics, so call your doctor if your baby has symptoms such as uncontrollable crying, poor feeding, fever, grunting, or blue skin. (Late-onset GBS, which develops after the first week, may also cause vomiting.)
For more information, contact The Jesse Cause Foundation at 805/984-7933 or thejessecause.com.