How much do you know about Group B Strep?

Women's Health


Helen Marsden

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If you are pregnant, or ever have been, you may have heard of the infamous Group B Strep(tococcus), but chances are you many not have been told very much about the infection by your doctor. Despite being the UK's most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, there is currently no NHS screening programme for Group B Strep (GBS). That's where we can step in with our easy-to-use, inexpensive Group B Strep Test that you can order from us online.

It is thought that around 25% of the population (both male and female) harbour the bacteria, and it usually lives harmlessly within the body. However in the case of pregnant women, there is a reasonable chance (about 50%) of passing the bacteria onto the baby during labour, and as newborn babies have not developed antibodies to GBS yet, it can lead to medical complications and, in the worst cases, death. Although the chances of losing a newborn baby to a Group B Strep infection are, thankfully, slim, it is quite rightly a genuine concern for many expectant mothers. Based on current statistics, it is estimated that around 340 babies per year in the UK develop a GBS infection within their first 6 days of life. Furthermore, GBS is more likely to be passed from mother to baby during birth when the woman's waters have broken between 18-24 hours before delivery.

Once it has been detected that a pregnant woman carries the GBS bacteria, she can be given antibiotics during labour (different courses of action are taken depending on length of labour etc.) and there should be no further complications. However, therein lies the problem- the majority of women do not know whether they carry Group B Strep as screening is not routinely done on the NHS. In other countries, such as the US, pregnant women are tested at 36 weeks- this has been proven to reduce the rate of GBS infections in newborns.

Over the last couple of months various calls from healthcare professionals to introduce routine screening for Group B Strep have been published. There is certainly demand for testing of this kind, but many women are unaware that they can simply and conveniently purchase a test for Group B Strep privately, and in doing so put their mind at rest by knowing their options and acting accordingly with the advice of their doctor.


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