Allison’s Chemist has chosen to stock testing kits for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in pregnant women. There has been considerable publicity about GBS infections in pregnancy and the potential effects on babies born to mothers who carry the infection.
The test is not provided routinely on the NHS and many patients have decided to get themselves tested either at private clinics or via postal testing services. We are aware that it’s not always clear who you are dealing with online, so we have teamed up with a proven provider of remote testing in the hope of providing some reassurance.
We understand why GBS testing isn’t provided routinely by the NHS as the infection doesn’t always get passed onto the baby from the mother, so a positive test doesn’t always mean that treatment will have been necessary. The infection can come and go so the timing of the test is important. Our provider recommends testing from 35 weeks onwards unless it is predicted that you will be delivering early.
We cannot know which babies born to an infected mother will develop GBS if the mother is not given intravenous antibiotics during labour, so this is where services such as ours help the medical team to make a decision in the best interests of their patients.
Group B Strep infections in newborns
There are two types of GBS infection in newborns: early and late-onset.
Early-onset GBS infection is more common (2/3 of cases in babies) and occurs when the baby is up to 6 days old; a key symptom is the rapid development of breathing problems, associated with blood poisoning.
Late-onset GBS infection – usually presenting as GBS meningitis – occurs between age 6 days and 1 month and, more rarely, up to age 3 months. After 3 months’ old, GBS infection in babies is extremely rare.
GBS is recognised to cause preterm delivery, maternal infections, stillbirths and late miscarriages; and preterm babies are known to be at particular risk of GBS infection as their immune systems are not as well developed.
Overall, approximately one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK develops group B Strep infection.
On average in the UK, at least
two babies a day develop a group B Strep infection
one baby a week dies from their GBS infection, and
one baby a week survives with long-term disabilities – physical, mental or both.
How can Group B Strep be detected?
Group B Strep carriage can be detected by taking swabs from the vagina and rectum and sending them to the laboratory. Group B Strep carriage can come and go so testing usually takes place from 35 weeks of pregnancy.
The test kits cost £35 which is paid to us. The swab is sent to the laboratory by the patient who will then usually get your results to you within three working days.