Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria that can cause life-threatening infections in newborns, as well as disease in a pregnant mother during or after delivery. It affects about 18,000 people every year. "As many as 30% of women carry GBS. It's usually harmless, unless it finds its way to the bloodstream," said Michael A. Bottar, Esq., a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer representing newborns injured by a failure to diagnose group B strep or GBS misdiagnosis.
An OB/GYN should test a pregnant woman for GBS during her third trimester. "That is the standard of care," Bottar added. "If a woman is found to be 'colonized,' then antibiotics should be administered - usually by IV." Antibiotic treatment for GBS is indicated to prevent transmission of the bacteria from mother to baby during childbirth. GBS causes sepsis (in mother and baby) and meningitis in newborns. Both sepsis and meningitis can lead to serious complications, including lifelong disabilities such as speech impairment, blindness and hearing loss.
Certain women are at high risk for delivering a baby with GBS, including those who develop a fever during labor, are colonized late in pregnancy, have a UTI due to GBS, have ruptured membranes more than 18 hours before delivery, and those who go into labor before 37 weeks.
According to a ScienceDaily article titled "Third Trimester Group B Streptococcus Test Doesn't Accurately Predict Presence During Labor," a study recently presented at the annual meeting for the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine has called into question the accuracy of the 3rd trimester GBS test. Apparently, many women who test negative for GBS at 37 weeks test positive at the time of delivery. The study suggests implementation of a rapid GBS test immediately before delivery as a way to avoid a GBS misdiagnosis.