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Group B Strep ~ GBS
.
Group B Streptococcus (aka: GBS, Beta Strep, Strep B), known scientifically as: Streptococcus agalactiae, is a type of bacteria that can live in and on our bodies. It lives primarily in the intestine and rectum; and in women can also colonize the vagina. It can also infect the bladder and kidneys. This normal flora, germ or "bug" can
be found on and in the human body of 15-40% of all healthy, adult
men and women.

GBS is relatively benign (meaning harmless) to the majority of the population, but can cause UTI's (urinary tract infections), URIs
(upper respiratory infections), and other infections among those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, those already ill and occasionally newborns.

According to the Centers for Disease Control,
 

"GBS is the leading infectious cause of morbidity and mortality among infants in the United States. As a result of prevention efforts, incidence of GBS has declined dramatically over the past 15 years, from 1.7 cases per 1,000 live births in the early 1990s to 0.34--0.37 cases per 1,000 live births in recent years."


Approximately 2% of babies born to women colonized with GBS will get sick from the bacteria. Babies can come into contact with GBS in the uterus and the birth canal during labor. GBS can cause sepsis (blood infection), meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain) and pneumonia (lung infection) in the newborn. One out of every 20 babies sick with GBS infection will die. Babies who do survive the infection, particularly those with meningitis, may have long-term problems such as hearing loss, learning disabilities and other neurological injuries.


Most cases of GBS disease in newborns occur in the first week of life and symptoms are usually seen in the first hours after birth. This is known as Early Onset GBS Disease (EOGBSD). An even smaller percentage of babies can become ill with GBS disease after the first week and typically in the first three months.


This is known as Late Onset GBS Disease (LOGBSD).

 


NEWBORN SYMPTOMS OF GBS INFECTION INCLUDE:

  • fever,
  • breathing problems/grunting sounds,
  • bluish-colored skin,
  • seizures
  • limpness or stiffness,
  • heart rate & blood pressure abnormalities
  • poor feeding,
  • fussiness.

Strep B Disease in the newborn can lead to serious illnesses such a sepsis, pneumonia,
and meningitis, which can cause life-long disability or death.


Babies who become sick as a result of GBS exposure are treated with IV antibiotics.

To identify those women with a vaginal GBS colony, a GBS culture test is offered to all pregnant women at 35-37 weeks. The screening is performed by inserting a cotton swab into the vagina, which is sent to a laboratory for evaluation. Those, whose tests return with a POSITIVE result, are said to be "colonized." GBS colonized women are statistically "at risk" for passing the bacterium to their babies during labor and birth.

The CDC recommends that GBS+ (colonized) women be offered IV (by vein) antibiotics, primarily Penicillin, every 4 hours throughout labor, in an effort to reduce the risk of babies becoming affected by EOGBSD.

  • The CDC states that receiving antibiotics during labor reduces the risk of EOGBSD to1 in 4,000.
  • Without antibiotics, the risk of EOGBSD is 1 in 200.
This means a 20 times greater risk of EOGBSD.

Inherent in the Midwifery Model of Care is your own informed decision making about your course of care, including whether or not you wish to be tested for GBS (as with all other laboratory tests & screenings) and whether or not to be treated if your test result returns Positive (+).
GBS Fact Sheet
We strongly believe that quality nutrition, nutrient supplementation, and a holistic, prevention regimen can significantly reduce & in some cases, eliminate GBS colonization. And while the medical model of research seeks for a vaccine for GBS, we believe that we can use our own immune system and friendly flora to combat GBS.
This, more natural approach to the control of this bacterium,  is safer and healthier for all of us.

IV antibiotics can be administered to you at home. We can also work with you to develop a home birth GBS alternative treatment plan if you test positive for GBS and choose not to treat with IV antibiotics.

We offer this thoroughly researched GBS Fact Sheet to help you learn all you need to know to make an informed decision about your care.




by Judy Slome Cohain, CNM




Helpful Links & Resources about Group Beta Streptococcus
Research, Treatment & Alternative Therapies

American Pregnancy Association ~ GBS Information








Intrapartum antibiotics for known maternal Group B streptococcal colonization

"This review finds that giving antibiotics is not supported by conclusive evidence."


Home Birth Midwifery Service
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