What is GBS in pregnant women?

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GBS stands for Group B Streptococcus and it is a type of bacterial infection that commonly affects adult women.  Most women may have GBS infection but may not experience any symptoms at all.  In most cases, these women will be able to heal from this infection without any medication or treatment.  The problem starts when the infected woman is pregnant because the bacterial infection may spread to the newborn baby during labor or delivery.  GBS is commonly associated with pregnancy because it is commonly diagnosed only during pregnancy.  The infection in GBS may affect the woman’s vagina or the rectum.  In some cases, the infection may also be present in the intestines.  There are also instances wherein the infection will spread to the uterus or placenta of the pregnant woman.

Many pregnant women with GBS infection will manifest no symptoms just like any other healthy woman.  The major concern is that the newborn babies are the ones who will be affected and will develop symptoms including hyperthermia, weakness, and feeding problems.  Some babies will also appear very lethargic and seem uninterested with their surroundings.  In a minority of cases, some infected babies will develop more serious and life-threatening problems like pneumonia and meningitis.  In these conditions, the lungs and the brain are the organs affected and must be addressed immediately to avoid serious complications like seizures, breathing problems and even possible death.  In terms of transmission of GBS infection from the pregnant mother to the baby may occur sometime before or during the actual delivery. This is the main reason why testing is recommended at around the 35th to 37th week of pregnancy.  Some experts also suggest that regular testing be done at these times to get more accurate results.   During this period, a vaginal or rectal swab is required for lab analysis.  Once the results are out, antibiotic treatment may start.

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