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60 Second Factfile: Strep B

July is Group B Strep awareness month, so we've taken a quick look at the infection that can hugely affect the lives of pregnant women and their babies.


Usually only affects newborn babies under 12 hours old. Symptoms include unresponsiveness, poor feeding, laboured breathing and an unusually high or low temperature.

Living with Strep B

About 25 per cent of humans have the Strep B bacterium in their system, but almost all adults have an immunity to it. It's estimated that one in five women have it in their digestive system or vagina, and in every 1 in 2,000 birth this is passed onto the baby. Babies have no immunity to this bacteria, and symptoms will likely present in the first 12 hours after birth, although in very rare cases a baby can catch the infection a few months after birth. What happens after 12 hours for a mum? Is it still there?


Preventative measures are carried out on all pregnant women to check for the presence of Strep B and administer antibiotics if necessary. If a baby is born and has symptoms of Strep B, blood and urine samples will be tested and antibiotics will need to be given intravenously.


An expectant mother who carries the Strep B virus will not automatically pass the infection on to the baby. Only 1 in 200 babies of untreated mothers will contract the infection.


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