Approximately 1 in 4 pregnant women carry Group B Streptococcus. Group B Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the digestive tract and birth canal. However, this bacteria is the leading cause of sepsis (infection in the blood) and meningitis in newborns according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not all babies exposed to GBS become infected, but, for those who do, the results can be devastating. GBS can cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn, born prematurely, become very sick, have lifelong handicaps, or even die.
Pregnant women are routinely tested for GBS between 35–37 weeks of their pregnancy by a swab test of both the vagina and rectum. Test results only take a few days.
Fortunately, most GBS infections that develop at birth can be prevented if women who have tested positive receive at least 4 hours of IV antibiotics prior to delivery.
If you would like to learn more, this is an excellent website by the Group B Strep International organization: GroupBStrepInternational.org