While “GBS” may seem like an unfamiliar term to most, 1 in 4 pregnant women carry Group B Streptococcus, otherwise known as GBS.
Mothers with GBS typically show no symptoms or adverse health effects, but the bacteria can be passed to their child during labor and delivery. In fact, it’s the leading cause of infectious disease – such as sepsis and meningitis – in newborns according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. GBS can also infect babies during pregnancy and the first few months of life.
Not all babies exposed to GBS become infected, but for those infants who are infected, the fatality rate with early-onset GBS disease is currently estimated at 4%-6%. Surviving infants may experience long-term disabilities including hearing loss, vision loss, or mental retardation.
Fortunately there are many ways to help protect babies from Group B Strep. Testing for GBS is the first line of defense. If detected, transmission of GBS can be prevented by administration of antibiotic prophylaxis prior to delivery. Traditional culture has been the standard of care for most laboratories in North America for many years, but the significant potential for false negatives is creating a shift in testing.
Currently the majority of laboratories in the U.S are using a traditional culture method. The patient sample that you send to the laboratory is placed in a growth medium, and then streaked on to a culture plate. The plate is then examined to see if any bacteria are present. The problem with this test is that it lacks sensitivity; studies have shown sensitivity to be as low as 42%, according to the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
That’s why Cincinnati-based Meridian Bioscience developed illumigene® Group B Strep, a molecular test that detects the Group B Strep bacteria. Molecular tests are faster and much more accurate than traditional testing methods. This allows for appropriate antibiotic treatment of mother at the time of delivery, ensuring the best outcome for baby!
July is International GBS Awareness, so spread the word. To learn more, click here or watch the exclusive webcast below with team members from Cincy Chic and Meridian Bioscience visiting New York City to raise awareness about GBS on Times Square!