Better to B Safe Than Sorry

It's a common bacteria, and it's almost always harmless in adults. It doesn't affect most pregnancies. If there's a risk of your baby becoming infected with it, you're easily treated during labor and delivery.

"It" is group B strep. Testing during weeks 34 and 36 of pregnancy will determine whether you have it in your genital area, but not whether your baby will be infected. (Ask your doctor about being tested.) However, the results can help your doctor decide if treatment to prevent infecting your baby is needed. But rest assured: Even if you do have group B strep, your baby will most likely be healthy. When a woman is treated during labor and delivery--with intravenous antibiotics--her baby almost never becomes infected.

In those rare cases in which a baby is infected--symptoms may take a few days or longer to appear--medical treatment is required to treat infections in the blood, lungs, brain or spinal cord.

More facts about group B strep:

* It's not the same as other strep, such as strep throat.

* It's not a sexually transmitted disease.

* Test results can be misleading: Your test may show that you have it one week and that you don't have it the next.

* In adults, there are often no symptoms or problems.

* Labor earlier than 37 weeks, fever during labor and having had another baby born with a group B strep infection are among the factors during pregnancy that increase your chances of passing the infection on to your baby.

Source: Based on information provided by the StayWell Co.

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