Tissue already weakened by injury or illness can be invaded by Group B strep (GBS). The eyes are frequently affected, as well as the bones, ears, joints, or intestines. The infection can travel from affected tissues to lymph glands, enter the bloodstream, and spread throughout the body. The bacteria can be passed from pregnant women to their newborns during childbirth.
Who’s Most at Risk:
- pregnant women
- the elderly
- chronically ill adults
Infections of the bladder, blood, and urinary tract can develop in a pregnant woman who has GBS infection and she may deliver a baby who is infected or stillborn. For a woman whose labor begins before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy or lasts more than 18 hours, the risk of transmitting GBS infection during birth is highest. Risk is also high for a pregnant woman who has the following conditions:
- has a GBS urinary-tract infection
- has already given birth to a baby infected with GBS
- develops a fever during labor
Help prevent strep infection by washing your hands frequently and by keeping wounds clean. Contact your family physician if your child develops an extremely sore throat or pain, redness, swelling, or drainage at the site of a wound or break in the skin. Also avoid contact with infected people.
A screening for GBS should be performed during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Antibiotics can be administered intravenously during labor for GBS which greatly reduces the chance of GBS being transmitted from mother to baby in the birth canal. It is believed that the chances that the baby will develop GBS infection are reduced from one in 200 to one in 4000.