Group B strep
Short name for Group B streptococci. The most common cause of infection in newborn infants is GBS. About 7,000 infants are infected each year. Despite modern therapy, about 10-15% of infected infants die. Roughly 20% of all women in the U.S. harbor GBS in their birth canal at delivery. It is not a venereal disease nor is it a sign of ill health or poor hygiene.
Women who harbor GBS in their rectum or birth canal are considered 'colonized' with GBS. For most of these women, colonization causes no problems to either the mother or child. However,1-2% of colonized women deliver babies that develop serious infections. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict which babies born of colonized mothers will develop infection. The mother is often completely healthy and the pregnancy uncomplicated. Furthermore, infants can acquire this potentially deadly infection before birth and yet appear well or only slightly ill for the first few hours after birth.