Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a type of Gram-positive streptococcus bacteria also known as streptococcus agalactia. Unlike the group A strep which caused strep throat, the GBS is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the human body and it normally shows no symptoms.
In the US, group B streptococcus is the leading cause of life-threatening perinatal infection, it is a naturally occurring bacterium found in 20% to 35% of healthy adults. It colonizes the vagina, rectum, urethra and cervix of 15% to 40% of pregnant women. GBS colonization is usually asymptomatic. However, maternal colonization is the primary risk factor for GBS infection in infants younger than 90 days.
Some of the risk factors of for early-onset GBS infection is maternal GBS gastrointestinal or genitourinary colonization. Other risk factors include: delivery at less than 37 weeks’ gestation; chorioamnionitis; sustained intrapartum foetal tachycardia; high temperature over 38⁰ C (100.4⁰F) at the time of labour and premature membrane rupture at any gestational age. Also, women with GBS in the rectovaginal area at the time of birth have a 60% chance of transmitting it to the new-born 1 to 2 percent of these infants will develop early-onset GBS. Late-onset GBS occurs at ages 4 to 5 weeks.
Common signs and symptoms of late-onset GBS include bacteraemia without a focus, fever over 100.4° F (38º C), difficulty feeding, difficulty breathing, irritability, lethargy, tachypnoea, grunting, apnoea, and cyanosis. Assess the new-born for signs and symptoms of respiratory distress (expiratory grunting and cyanosis are commonly seen, as are nasal flaring and chest retractions). New-borns may exhibit signs of thermoregulatory dysfunction. Cardiovascular signs could include hypo- or hypertension and dysrhythmias.
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