In a very small number it infects the baby, usually just before or during labour, and can lead to serious illness.
In some circumstances antibiotics can reduce the risk of a baby developing GBS. You may be offered antibiotics during labour if:
- you have previously had a baby with GBS infection;
- GBS has been found in your urine in your current pregnancy;
- GBS has been found on swabs from your vagina and/or rectum which have been taken for another reason;
- you have a high temperature during labour;
- you go into labour prematurely (prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy);
- your waters have broken more than 18 hours and you have not yet given birth.
Your doctor or midwife will assess whether you need to be given antibiotics during labour. If you need antibiotics they will be given through a vein (intravenously).
In Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK, routine testing for GBS in pregnancy is not currently recommended because there is insufficient evidence to support it. This position is kept under regular review.
If you are concerned about GBS, discuss it with your doctor or midwife. Further information is also available from the following websites.
Public Health Agency: www.publichealth.hscni.net/gbs
NI Direct: www.nidirect.gov.uk
Royal College of Obstetricians
and Gynaecologists (RCOG): www.rcog.org.uk
Group B Strep Support (GBSS): www.gbss.org.uk