Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

What pregnant women should know about Group B strep

Pregnant women undergo a variety of tests while they’re expecting. Although it’s not the most discussed test (that award would go to the glucose screening and tolerance test, designed to diagnose gestational diabetes) the Group B strep test is an important part of staying healthy during pregnancy. 

Sharon Byun, M.D., a physician at UF Health Women’s Center – Springhill, answers some common Group B strep questions.

How common is Group B strep?

About 20-25 percent of women are have naturally occurring Group B strep at the time of delivery.

What are the lasting effects of Group B strep?

There are no lasting effects of Group B strep for adults. The purpose of screening and treating women who are positive for Group B strep in labor is to prevent infection-related complications in newborns.

In what ways could Group B strep affect my baby?

Among babies, there are two main types of Group B strep disease: early-onset, which occurs during the first week, and late-onset, which can occur from one to 12 weeks after birth. 

Early-onset disease can cause an infection of the blood, lungs or the fluid and lining around the brain. Late-onset illnesses are similar, but meningitis is more common. Long-term consequences of the Group B strep infection include deafness and developmental delays.

However, thanks to the increase in prenatal testing and improved care for sick babies, the rate of Group B strep infection and long-term illnesses related to the infection has decreased dramatically. Only about 1,000 babies in the U.S. less than one week old get early-onset Group B strep each year.

How can it be prevented?

Group B Strep is a common bacterium found in healthy adults, usually in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract. It does not typically cause infection in healthy adults or need to be treated. There is no specific preventive strategy, as the presence of these bacteria has nothing to do with hygiene nor is it sexually transmitted.

What will happen if I test positive?

You will be treated with an antibiotic during labor that is administered through an IV. Typically, an antibiotic such as penicillin or ampicillin is administered.

How does a Group B strep infection change labor and delivery, if at all?

The presence of Group B strep does not change labor and delivery. A woman does NOT need to undergo cesarean delivery just because her Group B strep test is positive.

With the mystery of Group B strep solved, expectant mothers can turn their sights onto other newborn mysteries — for instance, how to get them to stay asleep!

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Amanda Austin

Social Media Coordinator

Amanda manages UF Health's Facebook and Twitter accounts, and curates information about healthy and wellness, health industry news, and updates on UF Health research....Read More