What is Group B Streptococcus?

GBS or Group B Streptococcus is a type of bacteria that is a natural part of a woman’s normal flora. It is usually found in the lower intestinal tract and vaginal area and typically doesn’t cause issues for mothers. Most mothers with GBS do not have any symptoms of infection.

What happens if you are GBS positive?

GBS can be transmitted to the baby during birth if the mother is positive for the infection, which can lead to some complications. 

That’s why if you test GBS positive during your prenatal screenings, antibiotics are offered during labor. Treating the infection before labor does not minimize the risk of transmission to the newborn. 

However, if GBS is detected in a urine culture test, the treatment is typically commenced as soon as possible. You are also given antibiotics during labor later to prevent the risk of transmission to the baby. 

Is GBS bad for the baby?

It is usually rare for the baby to get GBS, but it can have serious repercussions once the baby is affected. Exposure to GBS can cause mild to fatal septicemia, affecting the blood, brain, and organs.

A baby with early-onset disease typically becomes ill within 12 to 48 hours after birth or up to the first week of life. The early-onset disease can cause:

  • Infection or inflammation resulting in meningitis 
  • Infection of the respiratory tract or pneumonia 
  • Blood infection resulting in sepsis

Early symptoms include inconsolable crying, not feeding well, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, etc.

In late-onset disease, a baby gets sick between a week to a few months after birth. 

The late-onset disease is also serious and can cause meningitis or milder infections. Symptoms are similar to early-onset disease but appear in infants later.


What are the symptoms of GBS in pregnancy?

GBS in the vagina usually does not cause any symptoms in the mother. However, if you have a GBS-related urinary tract infection you will experience symptoms. These include:

  • Painful urination
  • Tenderness in the bladder area
  • Fever
  • Frequent need to urinate 

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider immediately.