Diagnosis

If you're pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a group B strep screening between weeks 35 and 37 of pregnancy. Your doctor will take swab samples from your vagina and rectum and send them to a lab for testing. A positive test indicates that you carry group B strep. It doesn't mean that you're ill or that your baby will be affected. It simply means the potential for newborn infection exists, and you can take steps to protect your baby.

If you've already given birth and your doctor suspects your baby has group B strep disease, a sample of your baby's blood or spinal fluid will be sent to a lab for evaluation.

Group B strep infection and group B strep disease are diagnosed when the bacteria are grown from cultures of the fluid samples. The cultures take several days to grow, so it may be two to three days before you receive the results of the lab analysis.

Treatment

Infants

If your baby tests positive for group B strep, he or she will be given intravenous (IV) antibiotics to destroy the bacteria. In some cases, IV fluids, oxygen or other medications, depending on your baby's condition, may be needed as well.

Adults

Antibiotics are effective treatment for group B strep infection in adults. The choice of antibiotic depends on the location and extent of the infection and your specific circumstances. If you're pregnant and develop complications due to group B strep, you'll be given oral antibiotics, usually penicillin or cephalexin, which are safe to take during pregnancy.