Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

Group B Streptococcus (GBS), also known as group B strep, is one of many different bacteria which live inside your body. About a third of us carry the bacteria in our gut without even knowing it. About a quarter of women also have GBS in their vagina. If you do, you won’t know it’s there, as GBS doesn’t have any obvious symptoms. Women are not routinely screened for GBS by the NHS, however if you are worried about this please consult with your GP for advice on private testing facilities.

GBS bacteria can be passed from you to your baby during labour. But this doesn’t usually cause problems, and most women who carry GBS bacteria have healthy babies. It is thankfully only in rare cases that GBS can cause serious illness and, even more rarely, the loss of a newborn baby.

Though it’s unusual, GBS is the most common cause of severe infection in newborns, particularly in the first week after birth (early onset infection). In the UK, about 340 babies develop a GBS infection every year.
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