To prevent group B bacteria from spreading to your baby during labor, your doctor can give you an IV antibiotic — usually penicillin or a related drug — when labor begins. If you're allergic to penicillin and related drugs, you may receive clindamycin or a similar alternative. Taking oral antibiotics ahead of time won't help because the bacterium can return before labor begins.

Antibiotic treatment during labor is also recommended if you:

  • Have a urinary tract infection
  • Delivered a previous baby with group B strep disease
  • Develop a fever during labor
  • Haven't delivered your baby within 18 hours of your water breaking
  • Go into labor before 37 weeks and haven't been tested for group B strep

Antibiotic therapy isn't usually needed if you have a C-section delivery unless your water breaks or labor has already begun before surgery.

If you test positive for group B strep, remind your health care team during labor. Your reminders will help your health care team provide the best possible care during labor and delivery.

Group B strep typically doesn't affect the length of time you and your baby spend in the hospital, and it doesn't affect your ability to breast-feed safely.

Vaccine in development

Although it's not available yet, researchers are working on a group B strep vaccine that could, in the future, help prevent group B strep infections among adults.

Aug. 22, 2013