If you're worried about the issues brought up in Mel Barham's story today, then the information below may help.
What is Group B Strep
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a normal bacterium which is carried by up to a third of adults, most commonly in the gut, and for up to 25% of women, in the vagina, usually without symptoms or side-effects. It is not a sexually transmitted disease.
In the UK, pregnant women are not routinely offered testing for group B Strep, unlike in many other developed countries.
How do I get tested?
Sensitive tests designed to detect group B Strep carriage are available, but rarely within the NHS. If you’re interested in finding out whether you carry group B Strep, the sensitive ‘ECM’ (Enriched Culture Medium) test is available from those listed at www.gbss.org.uk/test. The ECM test is recognised as the ‘gold standard’ for detecting group B Strep carriage (click here to read Public Health England’s guidelines for this test).
It’s good to know if you carry group B Strep during your pregnancy so preventative action can be taken to minimise the chance of your newborn baby developing group B Strep infection.
If group B Strep is detected at any time during your pregnancy, you should be offered intravenous antibiotics from the start of your labour and regularly until your baby is born.
According to the Group B Strep Support charity, pregnant women carrying group B Strep is perfectly normal.
GBS can be present at any time – in a woman’s first pregnancy, or in one or more subsequent pregnancies. However, It can be a threat during pregnancy, around delivery and afterwards.
Risk factors for group B Strep infection
- Mothers who have previously had a baby infected with GBS – risk is increased 10 times
- Mothers where GBS has been found in the urine at any time in this pregnancy – risk is increased 4 times
- Mothers who have been shown to carry GBS in this pregnancy – risk is increased 3 times
The following clinical risk factors also increase the chance of a baby developing a GBS infection
- Mothers who have a raised temperature* during labour of 37.8°C or higher – risk is increased 4 times
- Labour starts or waters break before 37 weeks of pregnancy (i.e. preterm) – risk is increased 3 times
- Waters break more than 18 hours before delivery – risk is increased 3 times
The Group B Strep charity have produced a video to warn expectant mothers of the danger of the infection. You can watch it below.