Group B streptococcus (Also known as Group B Strep, Strep B, Beta Strep, and GBS) is a very common type of bacteria. It is found in the intestine, rectum, and vagina of between 2 – 4 out of 10 women in the UK.

This bacterium is often found inside of our bodies, and it is usually harmless.

Who can Group B Strep affect?

The bacteria can be found in both men and women, although it is more common amongst women.

Group B strep is not usually problematic for the mother, or the baby. Because of this, it is not commonplace to test for the bacterium during pregnancy, however, it can be detected during tests for other issues.

Group B strep usually only becomes a concern when it is found in pregnant women, young babies, and the elderly.

Risks during pregnancy<h2>

The risks during pregnancy are very small, in most cases the baby will not be affected by the bacteria during birth, the chance of the bacteria spreading to your baby and making them ill is approximately 1 in every 1,750 births.

If you are tested for the bacterium and the result is positive, there are steps that can be taken to minimise all risks to you and your baby.

It is usually recommended that you give birth in a hospital, allowing for quick treatment during the birth and afterwards if needed. You may also be given anti-biotics during the birth intravenously; this can significantly reduce the risk of your baby getting ill.

It may also be recommended that you remain in hospital for at least 12 hours after giving birth to your baby, however this is not always a necessity, and will usually be recommended on a case-by-case basis.

Risks after birth

After giving birth, it is still possible for your baby to fall ill due to Group Strep B, here are the signs to look out for:
  • Being floppy or unresponsive

  • Very fast or slow breathing

  • Very fast or slow heartbeat

  • An unusually high or low temperature

  • Not feeding or vomiting

    If you spot any signs of these symptoms, call 111 or take your baby directly to A&E.
    Most babies that show symptoms of Strep B will make a full recovery.
    It is important to all of us here at Louie that expecting mothers and their babies are well informed, and best equipped to keep themselves, and their children safe during pregnancy and birth. We encourage you to read more on Group B strep and related conditions through the NHS website, here.