Why should all pregnancy women be screened for group B beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GBS) colonization?

Updated: Aug 17, 2021
  • Author: Raisa O Platte, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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GBS colonization has important implications during pregnancy. Intrapartum transmission that leads to neonatal GBS infection can cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, and death. Current guidelines recommend universal vaginal and rectal screening in all pregnant women at 35-37 weeks’ gestation rather than treatment based on risk factors.

Incidental documentation of GBS bacteriuria suggests a higher colonization count than is revealed by a screening vaginal or rectal culture. Beta-streptococcal colonization in the urine warrants immediate treatment and antibiotic prophylaxis when the patient presents in labor.

Whether beta streptococci are associated with preterm labor is controversial. In a prospective study, McKenzie et al found no relation between beta-streptococcal bacteriuria and preterm labor, but they described the use of urinary antibodies to identify at-risk women. [4] In 2043 consecutive women, those with E coli antibodies at the initial visit and at 28 weeks’ gestation and women with beta-streptococcal antibodies at 28 weeks’ gestation had a significantly higher chance of preterm delivery.

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