Beta Strep is a bacteria that is normally present in the vaginal area of some women. While B-Strep is harmless to the woman, it may cause severe respiratory problems in the newborn. For this reason, most doctors will test for B-Strep at about 37 weeks. If you are B-Strep positive, the routine medical protocol is to administer IV antibiotics to you during labor.
If you are planning a homebirth, you may wish to ask your doctor to perform the test at 35 weeks. There is an alternative method of antibiotic treatment that involves 4 shots of penicillin (one shot a week for four weeks) which you will want to discuss with your doctor if you are B-Strep positive. This may also be a wise option to take if you have had a precipitous (less than 2-3 hours) labor in the past.
There are also several holistic treatment options for B-Strep positive women (see links below). The esteemed researcher Michel Odent, MD has designed a protocol which simply entails washing the vagina with Hibiclense (chlorohexidine) during labor. Odent's protocol has proven to be as effective as IV antibiotics. Read his article: Preventing Group B Streptococcus
A summary of Group Beta Strep Statistics
|GBS baby for GBS pos (+) mom, no risk factors*, no antibiotics
|GBS baby for GBS pos (+) mom, WITH risk factors*, no antibiotics
|GBS baby for GBS neg (-) mom, no risk factors*, no antibiotics
|GBS baby for GBS neg (-) mom, WITH risk factors*, no antibiotics
|GBS baby for mom treated with IV antibiotics in labor
How likely is it?
That my baby will become sick from GBS disease....
- If I don't test.
- The incidence in the total population is listed a 3 per 1000 for this group.
- If I don't test, but will seek antibiotics with risk factors (ROM>18hours, fever, prematurity)
- These risk factors occur in approximately 25% of the population.
- The incidence of GBS disease in this group is around 1 in 1000. The presence of risk factors identifies less than HALF of those babies who would become ill.
- If I test, am GBS positive and choose to seek antibiotics if a risk factor is identified.
- These risk factors including a positive GBS culture occurs in approximately 15% of the population.
- The incidence of GBS disease in the group is 0.9 in 1000 of all deliveries or 1 in 25 of deliveries in this group.
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