Health Tip: Group B Strep and Pregnant Women

A simple test can alert doctors

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(HealthDayNews) -- If you are pregnant, you need to be aware of group B strep, a common bacterial infection that can be deadly to your newborn if passed on during labor.

A group B streptococcal infection is the most common cause of sepsis (blood infection) and meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain) in newborns. But in most cases, it can be prevented, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

A swab of the vagina and rectum when a woman is 35 to 37 weeks pregnant can show whether she is a carrier for group B strep. About one in four women does harbor the bacteria, but doesn't make them sick. It is not a sexually transmitted disease, and isn't spread by food or water, the CDC says.

For pregnant women whose tests are positive, antibiotics given during labor can prevent transmission of group B strep to their newborns.

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