Group B streptococcal (GBS) disease is a bacterial infection.

GBS can cause illness in newborn babies, pregnant women, the elderly, and adults with other chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or liver disease. In newborns, it is the most common cause of a blood infection called sepsis and meningitis, which is an infection of the fluid and lining surrounding the brain.

This following information covers GBS in pregnant women and their babies.

GBS is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus agalactiae. These bacteria live in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts. They are found in the vaginal or rectal areas of 10% to 35% of all healthy adult women. Only a small number of babies who are exposed to the bacteria will become infected. If infection occurs, it can be serious.

Newborn babies can become infected with GBS in three ways:

  • Before birth, bacteria in the vagina spread up the birth canal into the uterus and infect the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. The baby becomes infected by inhaling the infected fluid.
  • During delivery, by contact with bacteria in the birth canal
  • After birth, by close physical contact with the mother

Vaginal Bacteria Spreading to Fetus
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