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I have been told I carry Group B streptococcus (GBS). What does that mean?

It is now standard obstetric practice to screen all pregnant patients at or around 36 weeks gestation for GBS. GBS is bacteria carried in the bowel of 10-30 percent of all women. It is not pathologic to the carrier although it can be harmful to a baby. GBS can cause a sepsis syndrome that can be life-threatening to a newborn. Thus, all carriers are treated with IV antibiotic while in labor. There is no use in treating at any other time. Of note, neonates affected by GBS sepsis are infrequent; therefore, if no test results are available, it is acceptable to treat patients based on risk factors. These risk factors include: preterm, prolonged rupture of membranes, maternal fever, history of previous GBS affected baby and GBS UTI during pregnancy.

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