Group B Strep Infection

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View Stages of Pregnancy Slideshow Pictures

Group B Streptococcus Screening

Common Tests During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria that can exist in the female reproductive tract without causing symptoms. Up to 30% of healthy women can carry group B strep, and it usually does not cause problems. However, sometimes it can lead to serious infection of the bloodstream, infection of the placenta, or urinary tract infection. Group B strep can also have serious consequences for the baby, causing potentially life-threatening infections in the newborn, including meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis.

Group B strep facts

  • Group B strep (GBS) are bacteria found normally in the intestine, vagina, and rectal area in about 25% of all healthy adult and pregnant women.
  • Group B strep infections can affect neonates and adults.
  • Most pregnant women who are colonized by the bacteria have no symptoms.
  • The infection can be spread to infants before or during delivery.
  • Signs and symptoms in babies may include fever, breathing problems, seizures, lethargy, and poor feeding.
  • Diagnosis of GBS infection is made by isolating the organism from body fluids.
  • The treatment for GBS infection is antibiotics.
  • Complications of GBS infection include sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, or occasionally death.
  • The prognosis for GBS infection depends on the patient's age and underlying medical conditions.
  • In pregnant women, prevention of transmitting GBS infection is best achieved by routine screening for colonization with GBS.

What is group B strep?

Group B strep (GBS) is a type of gram-positive streptococcal bacteria also known as Streptococcus agalactiae. This type of bacteria (not to be confused with group A strep which causes "strep throat") is commonly found in the human body, and it usually does not cause any symptoms. However, in certain cases, it can be a dangerous cause of various infections that can affect nonpregnant adults, pregnant women, and their newborn infants. In the United States, approximately 19,800 cases of GBS infection occur annually across all age groups. Group B strep infection is the most common cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis in the United States.

Group B strep infection can also afflict nonpregnant adults with certain chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. The incidence of GBS infection in adults increases with age, with the highest rate in adults 65 years of age and older (20-25 cases per 100,000). Although the incidence of neonatal group B strep infection has been decreasing, the incidence of GBS infection in nonpregnant adults has been increasing.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/29/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Pregnancy & Newborns Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

  • Group B Strep - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with group B strep.

    Post View 39 Comments
  • Group B Strep - Treatments

    What was the most effective treatment for your group B strep?

    Post View 6 Comments
  • Group B Strep - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with your group B strep infection?

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors