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What is Group B Streptococcus in Infants by Kerrisha Martin

By at April 27, 2013 | 7:42 am | Print

Over the years I have been introduced to many different diseases and bacteria that affect women’s health more than men’s. One particular bacterium that I found interesting was Group B Streptococcus or more specifically group B strep in infants. When I first heard of the disease I assumed it was a form of strep throat but I soon discovered that it makes strep throat seem like a common cold.

Group B Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that lives in some women’s vagina or rectum and many people carry it in their intestines. Most adults have this in their bodies and it can be harmless, but older adults and adults with chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes and liver disease are more likely to be affected by Group B Strep. In adults Group B Strep can cause bloodstream infections and is the most common cause of sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis in infants. Healthy adults can carry this bacterium as it comes and goes without ever having side effects or symptoms. Pregnant women and infants are the most highly effected by Group B Strep. Pregnant women may feel fine and have no symptoms either while carrying Group B Strep. This is why it is extremely important for pregnant women to be tested for Group B Strep between 35 and 37 weeks of their pregnancy to check for the presence of the bacteria in their vagina. If the test is positive then steps are taken to prevent the baby from being transmitted Group B Strep during delivery. Antibiotics such as penicillin are given to the mother through an I.V. during delivery dramatically decreasing the baby’s chances of being born with Group B Strep disease. These antibiotics are given during labor and not before because the bacteria grows so rapidly that the antibiotics would not be effective if given before labor. This protects the baby more and prevents the baby from early onset of Group B Strep and decreases the chances of late onset, but unfortunately this does not prevent late onset of the disease.

Infants have an increased risk of developing Group B Strep if the mother has an infection of the placental tissues or amniotic fluids, the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, the mother’s temperature is over 100 F during labor, or the mothers water breaks 18 hours or more before delivery. Infants that do develop Group B Strep have symptoms as soon as one day old such as fever, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and difficulty feeding. Common treatment for infants is penicillin or other antibiotic if allergic. Treatment can also vary based on the severity of the disease because Group B Strep infections vary other test are done to diagnose the exact disease.

Most common adults affected by Group B Strep are elderly adults 65 and older and adults with medical illnesses. Common symptoms skin infections, urinary tract infections, bone and joint infections, and inflammation of the lungs. Antibiotics are the most effective treatment of Group B Strep. For adults the type of medication depends on where the infection is located for treatment. Fortunately there is a vaccine in development and researchers are working hard towards controlling this disease.


CDC – GBS Home Page – Group B Strep-

Group B strep –




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