Group B Strep Awareness Month

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July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and highlight the importance of education and research to help protect newborn babies from the consequences of this bacteria.

Group B Strep (GBS) infection in newborn babies can usually be prevented, which is why raising awareness amongst new and expectant parents The first step in enacting change is to raise awareness and educate ourselves. In the age of social media, this is something we can all do – use the hashtag #GBSAM2022 to get involved.

What is Group B Strep?

Group B strep is a type of bacteria called streptococcal bacteria. It is normally harmless and most people will not realise they have it but it is also the most common cause of severe infection in newborns and meningitis in babies under five. It is estimated that one in five pregnant women in the UK carries GBS.

In most cases, if you carry GBS, your baby will be born safely and will not develop an infection. However, on rare occasions, it can cause serious infections such as sepsis, pneumonia or meningitis

When the infection begins in the first week after birth, it is known as early-onset GBS.

What Increases the Risk of Early-Onset Group B Strep?

As per NHS guidance, infection is more likely if:

  • your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy – the earlier your baby is born, the greater the risk
  • you previously had a baby with a GBS infection
  • you had an infection of the fluid and membrane surrounding the baby during pregnancy (chorioamnionitis)
  • your baby is born more than 24 hours after your waters broke
  • you have a high temperature during labour.

To reduce the risk of infection, mothers of high-risk babies should be offered antibiotics during labour.

Unfortunately, pregnant women in the UK are not routinely screened for GBS but it can sometimes be detected when tests for other infections are carried out.

Group B Strep Support

Further information and support for group B Strep infection in babies can be found at https://gbss.org.uk/, including details about the GBS3 trial into testing pregnant women with a view to compiling evidence for routine testing for GBS to be introduced in the UK.


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