GBS Testing and Options

One of the tests you may be offered at the end of your pregnancy is a swab for Group B Strep (GBS).  If the results are positive, medical providers will almost always recommend antibiotics during labor. You have the right to make your own decision about having the test, and how to treat if the test is positive for GBS.

What is GBS?

How the test is done – Providers usually test for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy.  A swab (like a long Q-Tip) is used to take cells and secretions from your vagina and rectum. The swab is sent to a laboratory where a culture is grown. Your test results are usually available in 1 to 2 days. Some providers will do the swab themselves, and others will hand you the swab and explain the procedure so you can do it yourself.

Here are some resources to explore while making your decision on these topics:

“Giving antibiotics is not supported by conclusive evidence. The review identified four trials involving 852 GBS positive women. Three trials, which were more than 20 years old, compared ampicillin or penicillin to no treatment and found no clear differences in newborn deaths although the occurrence of early GBS infection in the newborn was reduced with antibiotics.” — Cochrane Review

The reasons some women have given for not having the test, or for refusing an antibiotic regimen if the results of the test are positive, include their concern about potential risks of using antibiotics, and the possible impact they may have on their own and baby’s long-term health.

As with most things, there are pros and cons to proceeding with testing for GBS, and choices in treatment. Discuss your concerns with your provider, but do your own homework so you can make an informed choice.


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