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Treating Group B Strep

Testing and treatment of group B strep in your pregnancy can help prevent your baby from becoming infected during birth. If your baby has complications due to group B strep, he or she may need special treatments. Early treatment gives the best chance of a good outcome.

Testing

Testing for the bacteria is painless. It is done within 5 weeks of the due date. This is most often between weeks 35 and 37 of pregnancy. For the test, your healthcare provider uses cotton swabs to take samples from your vagina and anus. These samples are sent to the lab. Your healthcare provider will get your test results about 2 days later. Results show if you have group B strep.

Treatment

If you have group B strep, you'll be treated with IV antibiotics. These are given through a flexible tube (catheter) in a vein in your arm or hand. You may be treated if you have not been tested but you have risk factors.

The treatment is not done until you start labor. This lets the medicine protect your baby during and after birth. Group B strep can come back after treatment, so IV antibiotics are started during labor and also given at the time of delivery. This should not affect the course of labor. If group B strep is diagnosed in your urine, you will be given medicine at that time to protect you from infections of the urinary tract. After the birth, your baby will be observed in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours. This is to make sure that he or she has not been infected. Your baby’s blood may also be tested.

 

In newborns, most cases of group B strep infection are found before the mother and baby go home. But in very rare cases, a baby may get a group B strep infection after going home. This is called a late-onset infection. Call your baby’s healthcare provider right away if your baby:

  • Has a fever

  • Is refusing to feed

  • Appears stressed or is fussy and can’t be calmed

  • Has breathing trouble

  • Has a rapid, extremely low, or irregular heart rate

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Irina Burd MD PhD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2020
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