Friday, July 10, 2009

Group B strep poses risk for newborns

Published Friday July 10, 2009
The Observer, La Grande, OR

Focus on Health
Tristin Mock, N.D.

Group B strep poses risk for newborns

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacterium that can cause serious illness and death in newborns.

Approximately one quarter of women in the U.S. are carriers of the bacteria. These women often do not have symptoms, but can pass the infection on to their children during the birth process.

Group B strep is the most common life-threatening infection in newborns. It can be avoided, but there is no vaccine to prevent infection. GBS is more common than rubella, congenital syphilis, and spina bifida, yet many people have never heard of it. In 2001, around 1,700 newborns were infected.

Group B strep can infect and be carried by anyone. GBS is not the same infection as strep throat. It’s usually found in the gastrointestinal tract (guts) and can then spread to the vagina and rectum. GBS is not a sexually transmitted infection.

Most women are screened for group B strep during the 35th to 37th week of pregnancy. Infected women generally have no symptoms, although some may have a bladder infection. If the mother tests positive for GBS she will need IV antibiotics during labor to prevent passing the infection on to her child. The bacteria regrow rapidly, so antibiotics before labor are ineffective. According to the CDC, “a C-section should not be used to prevent early-onset group B strep infection in infants.”

Group B strep can be contracted at times other than birth, although the birth process is the most common time for transmission. Pre-natal transmission often leads to stillbirth. Late-onset cases can occur in children more than one week old. GBS can cause babies to catch pneumonia, get meningitis (inflammation of the brain), suffer sepsis (blood infection), have lifelong handicaps or die.

If you’re pregnant, please talk to your healthcare provider about testing for group B strep. Not all babies born to infected mother’s contract group B strep, but it is devastating for those who do.

For more information about group B strep please visit or

Tristin Mock, N.D., is an Americorps VISTA volunteer with the Center for Human Development in La Grande.
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Dr. Whimsy Anderson, N.D. said...

Nice work Tristan!

Anonymous said...

i have gbs and your the first that has actualy told me what it reaily is iv had a lot of people brushing it of and telling me its nothing but i new that it was more than nothing and am glad i found your page to read it thank you

Anonymous said...

My 1st great granddaughter was born on Sunday, the 14th, went home on the 16th. She was admitted yesterday, the 18th and I was told this morning it's GBS :-( The hospital said she is getting better and is keeping her for 2 more days; why if she's getting better are they keeping her 2 more days or are they hiding something from us?? Why was this disease not caught before my 1st great granddaughter was released from the hospital my granddaughter delivered at?? In your honest opinion, was it caught in enough time so there will be no long term effect on my 1st great granddaughter?? Worse scenario, what can happen long term?? I have a lot of questions, please lead me to where I can read up more on GBS.. Thank you!!

Tristin Mock, ND said...

As part of standard procedure most doctors test the mother for GBS before delivery. Was your daughter tested? Did she get antibiotics during delivery? It most likely took a few days for the illness to incubate in your granddaughter, so they wouldn't have known she was infected until she showed symptoms.
My guess is they're keeping her longer to make sure she gets better with the least risk of complications. At the hospital they can make sure she gets all her medications on time. It seems to me they're being cautious, and playing it safe.
Without knowing her case its hard to say what the long-term effects will be for your granddaughter. I recommend following the 2 links that are in the blog post to find out more information and get support.

Tristin Mock, ND said...

I recently found a post about an alternative protocol to antibiotic use at I have not evaluated the research behind it yet, but wanted to let others know about.

Anonymous said...

My granddaughter was born on Sunday, October 10, went home a week later. She was admitted on this past Thursday, November 4 and we were told on Friday, the 5th at noon she has GBS. She is getting better but they are keeping her for 7-10 days on IV antibiotics to completely rid her of the infection/bacteria. My daughter-in-law was put on antibiotics after her C-section but not before, which she had at 36 weeks right at the time of recommended testing. They told us if we had waited 4 more hours to bring her in or definitely the next day they would have found the next morning they would have lost her. She stopped breathing long enough for her heart rate to drop to 50; they said if she had stayed that way for 4 minutes she would have had permanent brain damage so they intubated her and put her in intensive care on a ventilator while they started her on antibiotic therapy to get her strong enough to take her off and feel confident she would breathe continuously on her own again. She is off the ventilator now and out of intensive care in a regular pediatric room but still in the hospital on the IV antibiotics. I was told theoretically she could go home with the IV with a home health nurse but in reality - ain't happening! not with a infant.

Tristin Mock, ND said...

I'm glad that your granddaughter made it to the hospital. I'm sorry that your family has to face this. I wish you the best of luck during this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad I found your sight; we had no idea about this or the danger of it. BTW, daughter-in-law was on antibiotics because of a bladder infection but as far as I know there was no testing for this; the nurse said she was going to go through her labor and delivery records and check.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Anderson (or Dock?)
If anybody monitor's this site 24 hrs. do you all know if it's normal for the baby to start screaming again even while they're on the antibiotics; is this indicative of anything related? thanks

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