How can GBS disease in newborns and mothers be prevented?
Giving antibiotics (such as penicillin) through a vein during labor and delivery to women who have a positive GBS test or who have certain risk factors effectively prevents most GBS infections in women and their newborns. For best protection, the mother should receive intravenous antibiotics at least 4 to 6 hours before delivery. However, the earlier the administration of antibiotics the better once a risk factor has been identified. For example, a woman who has had a previous GBS baby should have I/V antibiotics started at the time of hospital admission, whether labor takes 14 hours or 6 hours.
If a woman's labor begins or her membranes rupture before 37 weeks of pregnancy (before a culture is collected) she should be offered I/V antibiotics.
Since antibiotics can cause side-effects, which are usually mild but can be severe, their use should be limited to those women who have one or more of the listed risk factors - the decision to take antibiotics during labor should balance risks and benefits. If you are allergic to penicillin, consult your doctor to learn about other effective antibiotics.
Cesarean sections are not likely to prevent GBS disease.
Unfortunately, no prevention plan is 100% effective. Some women with GBS escape detection because they do not have risk factors. All women should be tested for GBS with each pregnancy to ensure that the very best available protection is provided for their babies.
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