Your doctor will use one of two approaches to prevent Group B strep infections.
The first strategy involves screening expectant mothers for GBS during the last weeks of pregnancy. If you test positive for GBS, you will be treated with intravenous antibiotics — usually penicillin, or a related drug called ampicillin — during delivery. Antibiotic treatment can benefit mother as well as baby. A recent study shows that moms get fewer postpartum uterine infections associated with GBS when they're screened and treated for the bacterium before delivery.
Some doctors prefer another approach to treating GBS: bypassing the screening process and using antibiotics to treat only those expectant mothers who have risk factors for passing GBS on to their babies. Risk factors include:
- Previous birth of a baby with GBS infection
- Urinary tract infection caused by GBS during pregnancy
- Preterm labor (labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- Premature rupture of the membranes (water breaking before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- Prolonged rupture of the membranes (longer than eighteen hours spent in delivery)
- A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher during labor
While current methods of prevention can protect most babies from GBS infection, some newborns still get it. Researchers are seeking to develop a vaccine for expectant mothers that could prevent both early- and late-onset infections.