Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a major cause of illness and death in young infants across the nation. Current guidelines suggest pregnant women should be screened from thirty-five-to- thirty-seven-weeks gestation. Although screening may be negative at that time, the expectant mother could become colonized with GBS before delivery. GBS is a pathogen that lives in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tract of fifteen to twenty percent of women of childbearing age (Moorhead et al., 2019). GBS does not become a problem until it is passed from colonized mothers to the neonate during delivery (Virranniemi et al., 2019). When GBS is passed to the neonate during birth serious complications such as meningitis, pneumonia, and neonatal sepsis can occur (Johansen et al., 2019). Guidelines set forth in 1996 and updated in 2002 continue to be recommended today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (Kunze et al., 2015). This guideline includes a culture-based screening approach and is recommended for all pregnant women between thirty-five to thirty-seven-weeks of gestation (Kunze et al., 2015). Treatment for colonized pregnant women includes intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis (IAP). However, screening and providing antibiotic prophylaxis during this period may not completely eradicate the risk to the neonate. The pregnant woman continues to have the potential to become colonized with GBS before true labor begins. Therefore, it is important to screen with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or similar rapid tests when labor begins to ensure GBS colonization has not occurred (Virranniemi et al., 2019). By screening the laboring woman with PCR testing upon arrival to the labor/delivery unit, antibiotic prophylaxis may be administered before delivery. Continuing consequences of neonatal illness and death may occur if GBS testing is not performed routinely while the expectant mother is in labor.
Date of publication
MSN Capstone Project
Harris, Susan, "Group B Streptococcus: A New Perspective" (2023). MSN Capstone Projects. Paper 261.