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.

What is the treatment for group B strep?

For women who test positive for GBS during pregnancy and for those with certain risk factors for developing or transmitting GBS infection during pregnancy, intravenous antibiotics are recommended at the time of labor. The administration of antibiotics to women before labor who are known to be colonized with GBS is not effective in preventing early onset disease, as it has been found that the GBS bacteria can grow back quickly. Pregnant women with GBS isolated from the urine at any time during the pregnancy and those women who have had a previous infant with invasive GBS infection should receive antibiotics during labor, and thereby do not require the routine GBS screening at 35-37 weeks' gestation. Pregnant women who are not aware of their group B strep status should be given antibiotics during labor if they develop preterm labor (less than 37 weeks gestation), if they have membrane rupture for 18 hours or longer, or if they develop fever during labor. Penicillin or ampicillin are the recommended antibiotics, while individuals who are penicillin-allergic may be given either cefazolin or clindamycin. The administration of antibiotics has been shown to significantly decrease GBS early onset infection in newborns; however, it does not prevent late-onset GBS infection. If a pregnant carrier of GBS receives intravenous antibiotics during delivery, her baby has a one in 4,000 chance of developing GBS infection. Without antibiotics, her baby has a one in 200 chance of developing GBS infection.

In neonates and nonpregnant adults who develop invasive GBS infection, intravenous antibiotics are also the mainstay of treatment. There are certain conditions associated with invasive GBS infection that may require surgical intervention, for example surgical debridement in certain patients with soft tissue/skin/bone infections.

What types of doctors treat group B strep infections?

Group B strep infections may be diagnosed and treated by different specialists, depending on the patient's age and the potential complications encountered by the patient. In pregnant women, a GBS infection may be diagnosed and treated during labor by the patient's obstetrician/gynecologist or by a family practitioner if they are delivering the baby. Babies who develop a GBS infection will be treated by a pediatrician, a neonatologist, and sometimes an infectious-disease specialist may be involved. Nonpregnant adults who develop GBS infection will frequently be treated by an internist, an infectious-disease specialist, and rarely by a general or orthopedic surgeon if a skin or bone infection requiring surgery is present.

What are the complications of group B strep infection?

Invasive infection with GBS in babies may result in sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, or occasionally death. In some babies who survive, meningitis, deafness, blindness, or developmental disabilities may occur.

In pregnant women, infection with GBS may cause urinary tract infection, infection of the uterus and placenta, as well as preterm delivery, stillbirth, or miscarriage.

In nonpregnant adults with chronic medical conditions who develop invasive GBS infection, complications may include pneumonia, urinary tract infection, sepsis, skin and soft-tissue infection, bone and joint infection, and rarely meningitis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/29/2016

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