My wife is eight months pregnant and her due date is creeping ever closer with each passing day. In this last month, many preparations are being made in our home. We have assembled the cradle, put away the copious amount of clothes our generous parents have given us (it’s our first child), and the house has never been so clean. My wife is also making her own personal preparations. She is eating extremely nutritious meals, taking regular walks, and overall watching her general health.
However, one common bacterial infection could be present in her that puts our baby girl in tremendous danger. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a Gram positive bacteria which are normally found in 25% of all healthy, adult women. For the overwhelming majority of women, there are no symptoms of carrying GBS bacteria so there are no health changes that would alert a woman of her infection.
While Group B Streptococcus rarely affects the mother, it can cause devastating health issues for newborn babies. GBS affects one in every 2,000 babies in the United States alone. While not every baby born to a mother who tests as GBS positive will become ill, the effects can be devastating. Babies born to GBS positive mothers can experience both early and late onset GBS infections with varying symptoms. Those affected by early onset GBS show signs within hours of delivery. These signs and symptoms include sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. These are the most common complications but trouble breathing, heart and blood pressure instability, and kidney failure are all symptoms. Late onset GBS infections usually begin between one week to a few months after birth and are most commonly associated with meningitis. Late onset GBS infections can actually be acquired through contact with another child or even an adult with a GBS infection regardless of whether or not they show the symptoms.
Thankfully, just because a woman tests positive for GBS, only one in 200 babies will become ill. However, due to the serious nature of the infection for newborn babies, it has become common practice with neonatal physicians to test women for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of every pregnancy. They test during every pregnancy as a woman can colonize GBS at any time, even if she was GBS negative during an earlier pregnancy.
If a woman tests positive for Group B Streptococcus at any time during her pregnancy, then during active labor she will be immediately put on intravenous antibiotics. Upon the breaking of the amniotic sac, an unborn child is immediately susceptible to infection, so even if a woman is not in active labor, she should be admitted to the hospital if her water breaks, especially if she is GBS positive.
You may be asking, “How do they test for GBS colonization in pregnant women?” Well, as we stated earlier, at 35 to 37 weeks in a woman’s pregnancy, her doctor will schedule an appointment for a vaginal and rectal swab. The specimen will then be sent to a lab.
LIM broth was the golden standard for the detection of Group B Streptococcus in pregnant women. However, in 2005, Hardy Diagnostics introduced the Carrot Broth Kit for the detection of GBS which decreased the turn around time for labs in presenting positive results. Now, in 2017, Hardy Diagnostics offers Carrot Broth One Step, which eliminates the tile from the kit, which again decreases turn around time. At Hardy Diagnostics, we are proud to offer this breakthrough in clinical lab science as the direct result is the protection of newborn children.
At Hardy Diagnostics, we are proud to offer this breakthrough in clinical lab science. Carrot Broth in its original form is responsible for the screening of millions of mothers for GBS. We at Hardy Diagnostics are incredibly proud that our product has helped in saving the lives of so many innocents in the last two decades and are steadfastly improving on our products so that we may continue to do for many more to come.