GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns. In pregnant women, GBS can cause bladder infections, womb infections, and stillbirth. Many people carry GBS in their bodies, but do not become ill. If is believed that one of every four or five pregnant women caries GBS in the rectum or vagina.
GBS can be detected during pregnancy by taking a swab of the vaginal and rectal area around 35-37 weeks gestations. Cultures collected earlier do not accurately predict whether a mother will have GBS at delivery. If the culture shows the presence of GBS the mother will be given antibiotics at the time of labor or membrane rupture to reduce the risk of the baby having GBS illness
Fortunately, only one of every 100 to 200 babies of these women will develop signs and symptoms of GBS. Sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis are the most common problems. If antibiotics are given in labor, there is a 1 in 4000 chance of delivering a baby with GBS disease. Vaccines are currently being developed to prevent GBS disease. In the future, women may be able to be vaccinated to protect the baby during birth and early infancy.