Group B strep is a kind of bacteria that’s part of normal gut flora for 20-40 percent of women. While it can sometimes cause yeast-infection-like symptoms like itching and discharge, most of the time it doesn’t cause any symptoms at all. However, newborns are vulnerable to the bacteria and can get a serious infection from it called Group B Strep disease, which can progress into a blood infection (sepsis), lung infection or meningitis.
The current recommendation in the U.S. is that all women be screened between 35 and 37 weeks. The screening is a swab of your vagina and rectum which is sent to a lab. If you test positive, if you’ve tested positive in the past, if your labor begins before 35-37 weeks or if you’ve gone more than 18 hours after your water has broken you’ll be given an IV of antibiotics during labor. Treating Group B strep any earlier isn’t effective because the bacteria can grow back. If you test positive for group B strep and get antibiotics during labor you have only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby with group B strep disease.