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November 2011, Volume 41 Number 11 , p 62 - 62


  • Paula L. Field MA, RN, CNM, WHNP


A LEADING CAUSE OF life-threatening perinatal infection in the United States, group B streptococcus (GBS) is a naturally occurring bacterium found in 20% to 35% of healthy adults.1,2 It colonizes the rectum, vagina, cervix, and urethra 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. GBS becomes a health threat when it's transferred from the mother to the newborn either in utero or during childbirth. Newborns who become severely ill with GBS may have ingested infected amniotic fluid or vaginal fluid during birth.3The primary risk factor for early-onset GBS infection is maternal GBS genitourinary or gastrointestinal colonization. Additional risk factors include: * prior delivery of an infant with GBS infection * delivery at less than 37 weeks' gestation * premature membrane rupture at any gestational age; membrane rupture 18 or more hours before delivery

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