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My son was born at 32 weeks after a number of preterm labours being stopped. It was found then i tested positive for group strep b. My following 2 pregnancies i was given the antibiotics in labour due to my history. After a long IVF process im now pregnant again (18 years after my prem baby and 10 years since my youngest was born) after a visit to my midwife she has told me that i will not be able to have antibiotics in labour as they dont do that anymore and they wont test me either. Throughout my 3 pregancies i had pre term labour stopped over 10 times and although not proven im sure it was due to strep b. Any advice please :(

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  • Congratulations on your pregnancy, and goodness what a journey you've had!

    Testing:

    Current guidance is that the NHS does not test pregnant women for group B Strep carriage, nor does it offer the antibiotics in labour unless GBS is detected during the current pregnancy or other risk factors are present.

    Group B Strep carriage can quite naturally come and go from the vagina so the bacteria can be there one month and not the next … and back again at some other time. Research has shown that the result of a sensitive ECM test for GBS carriage is highly predictive of carriage status for around 5 weeks – they can’t predict carriage well over longer periods. There is an increased chance of a woman carrying GBS in a pregnancy if she carried GBS in her previous pregnancy, so it is the view of our medical panel that, if possible the pregnant woman should be offered a reliable (ECM or PCR – read more about the different tests for GBS carriage by clicking here) test from 35 weeks of pregnancy to establish whether she is still carrying GBS. If the test is positive, then she should be offered intravenous antibiotics as soon as possible once labour has started.

    However, sadly, although this is our medical advisory panel's view of what should happen, it's rarely done in the NHS. You can get tested privately (cost £35-£40) - it's usually done after 35 weeks of pregnancy for the reasons explained above but of course if you're doing it privately, you can do it whenever you choose.

    We list on our website the organisations we are confident offer the test for GBS carriage following PHE guidelines - see see gbss.org.uk/test.

    Preterm Labour:

    Along with many other bacteria found in the vagina, GBS can cause infection of a baby in the womb, which can result in preterm birth, stillbirth and late miscarriage. However, thankfully these events are not common and GBS is a rare cause of them. These things are usually caused by a variety of factors other than GBS (eg genetic defects, gynaecological problems, other infections, etc). If you have had any of these problems in the past, you should make sure these possibilities are investigated fully by a consultant obstetrician at booking (or before) regardless of whether or not you are colonised with GBS.

    If you haven't already, we would suggest you see your Consultant Obstetrician and together develop a plan that addresses both the risk of preterm labour and of group B Strep.

    Hope this helps - do get in touch with us by phone on 01444 416176 or email info@gbss.org.uk if we can help in any way. And please do keep us posted :)