Q&A With Dr Aliya: What's a Group B Strep Test?

We break down everything you need to know about the Group B Strep test

Q. My midwife mentioned that I will be tested for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria in my third trimester. What exactly is GBS and should I be concerned if I test positive?

A.  Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, is just one of the many different types bacteria that normally live in our bodies. These bacteria live harmoniously in our bodies without us even knowing, aiding with digestion, helping to boost our immune systems and generally keeping us functioning optimally. 

The GBS screening test is a vaginal and rectal swab performed at approximately 35-37 weeks of pregnancy to test for the presence of Group B Strep bacteria. GBS naturally occurs in about 10-30% of healthy pregnant women and has a 1% chance of passing from mother to baby during labour.  In newborns, GBS is a major cause of meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and sepsis (infection of the blood). 

Sounds scary, we know!  But there is good news. Research shows that antibiotics given to pregnant women at the start of labour or from the time their membranes rupture (waters break) can prevent most GBS infections in newborn babies. If you are GBS positive, you will receive IV antibiotics when you are in active labour and /or if your water breaks. 

Here’s even better news! Often a GBS positive result can be prevented before the screening test occurs. Dr Sapna Flower, naturopathic doctor at Restore Integrative Health, offers these two recommendations to help decrease your chance of a positive result:

  • Take a high-dose, good quality oral Probiotic
  • Use a Tea Tree spray along the perineum (5-10 drops of tea tree in 1-2 cups of water in a squeeze bottle).  Apply spray to the perineal area after every trip to the washroom – starting at 32 weeks

If you’ve had a history of vaginal infections, seeing a naturopathic doctor can also be beneficial during pregnancy.

Do you have a question for Dr. Aliya? Send an email to editor@babypost.com with Dr. Aliya in the subject line and check back every Thursday to see what Dr. Aliya is writing about each week!

A health practitioner, chiropractor and acupuncturist with a distinct integrative care approach, Aliya brings extensive experience in pre-natal and pediatric wellness to her clinical practice at Restore Integrative Health in Toronto.  She also treats mamas and mamas-to-be at The Toronto Yoga Mamas.   She is a runner, yoga instructor and new mother.

Visit her website at draliya.ca or follow her on Twitter @DrAliyaVisram or on Instagram @DrAliyaVisramDC

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