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How is group B strep infection treated during pregnancy?

Dr. Margit S. Lister, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

If there is a group B streptococcus (GBS) concern during pregnancy, to minimize the risk of GBS, your doctor will probably recommend that you receive antibiotics during labor. Antibiotics given at this time can help get rid of some of the bacteria that can harm the baby. You'll receive the antibiotics through an IV (intravenous line), a small and flexible tube placed through your skin into a vein.

If you are planning a Caesarean (C-section) delivery, your labor hasn't begun, and the amniotic sac hasn't broken (your water hasn't broken), you may not need to take antibiotics. That's because in these circumstances, there is less chance that GBS will pass to your baby during a planned C-section.

Group B strep infection, which is a growth of streptococcal bacteria in the vagina, is usually treated with intravenous antibiotics when the mother is in labor in the hospital. There are several antibiotics approved for this purpose. Group B strep is treated in order to decrease the risk of infections in the newborn, which can include infection of the blood, pneumonia and meningitis. Testing for group B strep is usually done by collecting a specimen with a sterile swab from the mother's vagina and rectum between weeks 35 and 37 of pregnancy. About 25% of pregnant women carry the bacteria.

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