Group B Streptococcus also known as Group B Strep or GBS is a bacteria that lives inside the body found in the vagina, gut and bowel in around 2 out of 10 women. Group B Strep (GBS) is the most common cause of life threatening infection in newborn babies, it isn't clear why some babies develop an infection while others don't. What is clear is most Group B Strep (GBS) infections in newborn babies can be prevented in the U.K.
The Gold Standard Enriched Culture Medium test ECM is specifically designed for the isolation of Group B Strep (GBS) in swabs and needs to be cultured between 35-37 weeks of pregnancy to best predict colonisation. Group B Strep (GBS) testing is not routinely available through the NHS and is only currently available in the private sector.
Pregnant women who Carry the Group B Strep infection would be completely unaware of it as it shows no symptoms, and can only be identified by testing. As Group B Strep is not tested for routinely in pregnancy newborn babies could be at risk of septicaemia, pneumonia and meningitis infections.