Among the many things that a neonate has to struggle with upon his or her entry into the outside world is a number of infections.
One of the most serious illness causing infections that a new born can have to face is known as infection known as Group B Streptococcus (GBS), or as ‘Streptococcus agalactiae’ which is more commonly known as Group B strep. Group B strep is different from Group A strep which causes strep throat.
In the United States, an estimated 12,000 infants become infected with Group B strep and of those, as many as 2000 may die each year. This infection can also cause other impairment of a physical or mental nature to the baby.
Group B Strep is an infection that can even cause death, particularly in new born infants, the elderly and those who have a compromised immune system. Babies who get infected with Group B Strep usually do so within the first week of life, however infection is still possible up to about three months of age.
This infection is usually communicated to the baby by the flora present in the mothers’ genital tract. These bacteria can be found in the lower intestine or vagina of up to 40% of adult women who are in good health.
Group B Strep is not something that is commonly known to people. While an expectant mother will typically have read about Rubella, or Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida and is probably aware that these are disorders that a gynecologist will routinely be watching out against during antenatal checks, she is less likely to have heard of Group B strep, even though this is a more common infection.
So how can a mother reasonably hope to prevent Group B Strep from passing on to her new born? There are screening mechanisms available, which can be used in the later part of a woman’s pregnancy to see if a woman tests positive, antibiotics will take care of the infection.
It is also important to remember that not all babies exposed to GBS become infected.
Can a C section prevent Group B strep in a newborn? Since Group B strep is an infection passed on by the mother’s genital flora, one of the questions that occur for many is if the risk of Group B strep can be eliminated by a C section.
This is however not the case; the risk cannot be eliminated altogether by a C section and it is not advisable that a mother undergo an elective C section to avoid the possibility of this disease.