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Newborn babies with group B strep usually get symptoms in the first 24 hours after birth. These symptoms may include:
Babies who get group B strep a week or so after birth may have these symptoms:
Pregnant women may have group B strep without symptoms. When they have symptoms, symptoms may include:
Your baby's healthcare provider will test the baby’s sterile body fluids, such as blood or spinal fluid. Most newborns with group B strep infection have symptoms in the first few hours after birth.
All pregnant women should be tested for group B strep as a part of routine prenatal care. In late pregnancy, your healthcare provider can test for GBS by taking a swab of your vagina and rectum during a pelvic exam. He or she can also test your urine for GBS. The swab or urine is sent to a lab to grow the bacteria. Tests are usually done between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. The results may take a few days. A woman who is a GBS carrier may test positive at certain times and not at others.
Treatment of group B strep depends on whether it is diagnosed during pregnancy or after delivery.
Newborns ill with group B strep infection may need care in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). They are usually given IV antibiotics. The newborn may need other treatments and special care if the infection is bad or if the baby has other serious problems such as meningitis or pneumonia.
If you have a positive GBS test during pregnancy, you will get intravenous (IV) antibiotics during labor. This lowers the risk that the baby will get the infection. Penicillin is the most common antibiotic given. Tell your healthcare provider about any medicine allergies. You may also need treatment if you have certain risk factors. These include:
Group B strep is the most common cause of serious infections in newborns. Premature babies are more likely to get GBS infection than full-term babies.
Although rare, GBS infection may also happen in babies a week to several months after birth. Meningitis is more common when this happens.
In some pregnant women, GBS infection may cause chorioamnionitis. This is infection of the amniotic fluid, sac, and placenta. It can also cause a postpartum infection (endometritis). Urinary tract infections caused by GBS can lead to preterm labor and birth. Pregnant women with GBS are more likely to need a cesarean delivery. They are also more likely to have heavy bleeding after delivery.
Healthcare providers screen all pregnant women for GBS in late pregnancy. This can tell which women need treatment so that their infant does not get the infection. High-risk pregnant women may be given antibiotics before labor and birth to prevent GBS. It is important to understand that some babies still get GBS even with testing and treatment. Research is ongoing to make vaccines to prevent GBS disease.
Most newborns with GBS have symptoms before they go home from the hospital. But some babies do not show symptoms until later. Symptoms include:
If your baby has any of these symptoms, call your child's healthcare provider right away.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.