What Is Group B Strep?
Can an infection you don't even know you have be harmful to your baby? This scary prospect is a real one for almost one in every 1,000 U.S. newborns infected with Group B streptococcus (GBS). Although GBS is mainly a problem for newborns, it's also a common cause of postpartum uterine infections in women, resulting in fever, abdominal pain, and rapid pulse.
Between 10 and 30 percent of pregnant women have GBS in their vaginal or rectal area; each carries a one in 100 chance that her baby will become infected. Most people who harbor GBS aren't aware of it, because it rarely causes any symptoms. The bacterium lives in the gastrointestinal tract, along with numerous other bacteria that are harmless to most people. However, if GBS is absorbed by baby as he passes through the birth canal -- for example, by ingesting vaginal fluids during delivery -- it could make him very sick.