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Below is the information contained in our brochure on GBS. If you would like to obtain brochures for distribution, please see our order form for brochures and other awareness materials.

                     Help protect yourself and your beautiful baby

The CDC says that GBS is a leading infectious killer of newborns in the USA.

The Group B strep (GBS) test and common antibiotics could save your baby’s life! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends GBS testing for all pregnant women.

What is Group B strep?
Group B strep (GBS), also known as beta strep, is a common bacteria found in about 1 in 4 pregnant women. Most women who carry GBS do not have symptoms. Any woman can have this bacteria at any time during any pregnancy. While usually not harmful to pregnant women, some babies who are exposed to GBS during pregnancy, birth, or after delivery, become sick or even die.

How can I protect my baby?
Get tested for GBS at 35-37 weeks of every pregnancy!* Your care provider will take a simple Q-tip swab, also called a “culture,” from your vagina and rectum. Test results may take 2 to 3 days. If positive, you carry GBS.

*Average cost is only $25 US, in most cases covered by HMOs or insurance companies.

Take extra precautions!
GBS cultures can occasionally show a “false negative” test result or your status may change by the time you go into labor. Call your hospital to see if they have the new FDA-approved test, IDI-Strep B™. This rapid test has been approved to determine GBS status during labor, or at any other time during pregnancy, in less than one hour. It is currently the most reliable method to detect GBS just prior to delivery.1

What happens if I have Group B strep?
Tell the Labor & Delivery staff that you have GBS when you go into labor or your “water breaks.” You need to receive IV antibiotics during labor at least 4 hours prior to delivery, and then every 4 hours until delivery.2 Antibiotics given earlier in labor provide better protection for your baby.

Do I need additional testing?
The Jesse Cause advocates that you request a urine culture during at least your first and third trimesters to detect GBS and other bacteria.3 (This is not the routine test done at prenatal visits.) Any amount of GBS in your urine, even if you don’t have symptoms, means that you carry a heavy amount of GBS where it can potentially harm your baby. The Jesse Cause advocates oral antibiotics, not only if you have a urinary tract infection caused by GBS, but for any amount of GBS in your urine, as well as a urine culture recheck.

If you carry GBS and are allergic to penicillin, your care provider may request testing to make sure you are given the most effective antibiotic during labor.2

What are early- and late-onset GBS?
Most GBS infections are early-onset when symptoms develop within 7 days of birth, most commonly within the first 12-24 hours of life. Prenatal testing and treatment is important for prevention of early-onset GBS.

Late-onset GBS can happen between 7 days and 3 months of age, but even up to 6 months. Everyone should wash their hands before handling your baby as late-onset GBS can be caused by sources other than the mother.4 (See list of symptoms.)

What can happen to my baby?
Early-onset GBS is the most common cause of meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining of the brain), sepsis (blood infection), and pneumonia (infection in the lungs) in newborns in the United States. Some infected babies may suffer lifelong handicaps such as mental retardation, brain damage, blindness, deafness, and cerebral palsy. GBS can also cause death.

Can GBS cause vaginal infections?
Yes, if you have vaginal irritation/burning, or yellow or green discharge, you should see your health care provider to be tested and treated. Although GBS vaginitis is not widely recognized by health care providers, GBS can cause these symptoms. Vaginal infections have been linked to preterm births and can indicate a heavy amount of GBS that can potentially harm your baby.5

Can GBS cause miscarriages and stillbirths?
Yes. The CDC recommendations state that GBS can cross the amniotic membrane even before your water breaks or labor starts. Some experts and the Jesse Cause believe that frequent or forceful internal exams and inducing labor by stripping membranes or using cervical ripening gel (pitocin is less risky) can push bacteria closer to your baby so that your baby can be exposed to GBS even before your water breaks. These practices have been linked to stillbirths and a higher rate of infection in newborns.6,7,8,9,10,11 If already infected, antibiotics during delivery may not prevent early-onset GBS.12 (Although often beneficial, internal fetal monitors may also introduce infection to your baby.2)

Urine culturing, prompt attention to vaginal infections, and caution regarding internal exams and procedures may help to prevent miscarriages and stillbirths.6,7 In certain situations, vaginal ultrasounds may be available as a less invasive alternative to an internal exam.6 (Internal exams can tell how far you are dilated, but cannot accurately tell when your baby will be born.8)

Can GBS cause preterm labor?
Yes, labor can begin before 37 weeks due to GBS.

Can GBS cause my “water” to break?
Yes. This is called premature rupture of membranes when your “water breaks,” but labor does not start. Once the membranes have ruptured, your baby loses a significant layer of protection.13

Do C-sections prevent GBS infection?
No, as GBS can still cross the amniotic membrane. According to the CDC, GBS+ women who deliver by planned C-sections (performed prior to labor and with intact membranes) do not routinely need antibiotics because the risk of the baby becoming infected is low. (The Jesse Cause advocates receiving IV antibiotics 4 hours prior to your planned C-section to further reduce risks for your baby.) However, you should still be tested for your GBS status in case you go into labor before a planned C-section. GBS can also infect your C-section wound, womb, and bladder.4

What happens if I do not have a GBS test result prior to labor?
Unless your hospital carries the IDI rapid test, you will be offered IV antibiotics based on the following risk factors:

Prior birth to a baby with GBS disease

"Water breaks” before 37 weeks gestation

Prolonged rupture of membranes or “water” is broken 18+ hours without delivery (some studies show that 12+ hours increases your baby’s risk13)

GBS in the urine during current pregnancy

Fever of 100.4 °F or higher during labor

You need to be aware that about half of GBS infections occur when there are no risk factors.14

What happens if I have short labors?
If you have short labors or live far from the hospital, you may give birth before you receive the recommended amount and duration of antibiotics. In this event, your hospital may observe your baby for 48 hours and may also order a blood culture and other tests to rule out GBS infection.2 To reduce the risk of GBS infection, some hospitals give newborns a shot of penicillin within 1 hour after birth.15 Parents also request newborn testing and/or treating with antibiotics until culture results from their baby are known.7

Symptoms of GBS & GBS Meningitis in Babies
Do NOT Wait if You Think Your Newborn is Sick!

Take your baby to the emergency room or call your baby’s care provider if you notice these signs:

High-pitched cry, shrill moaning, whimpering

Grunting with breathing (as if constipated)

Body stiffening or uncontrollable jerking movements, even if subtle and intermittent

Marked irritability, inconsolable crying

Feeds poorly, or refuses to eat

High or low temp (babies up to 6 months should not have a fever above 100.3 °F)—fever may include hands and feet that feel cold

Fast, slow, or difficult breathing

Projectile vomiting

Blueness or grayness of skin (especially around the lips) due to lack of oxygen, pale skin color

Blotchy skin color, skin redness, or tenderness

Sleeping too much, can’t wake up for feedings

Not moving an arm or leg, listless, or floppy

Tense or bulgy spot on top of head (fontanel) that should normally appear flat

Blank stare or trance-like expression

About The Jesse Cause

The Jesse Cause is named after Chris and Shelene Keith’s son Jesse, who was born with GBS, which caused meningitis, sepsis and hydrocephalus, and resulted in three brain surgeries.

Join our awareness campaign to
To obtain this information in brochure format, to volunteer, or donate, contact:
567 W. Channel Isl. Blvd., #235, Port Hueneme, CA 93041
Phone/Fax (877) HALT-GBS
Visa/Mastercard accepted
Non-profit 501 (c) (3) #77-050-888-5

A special thank you to
Francois Le Mouël of Infectio Diagnostic (IDI) Inc.
Cathie MacIntosh, mother of Caitlyn ~ stillborn due to GBS
Marti Perhach, mother of Rose ~ stillborn due to GBS
Donna Russell, mother of Nathaniel ~ GBS sepsis survivor



Haberland et al., Perinatal Screening for Group B Streptococci: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction. Pediatrics 110:3. September 2002.


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Prevention of Perinatal Group B Streptococcal Disease Revised Guideline from CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vol. 51, No. RR-11. August 16, 2002.

Antimicrobial therapy for obstetric patients. ACOG educational bulletin no. 245. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March 1998;245:8-10.
CDC/NCID “Group B Streptococcal Infections” Brochure, August 1998.
McGregor, James A., MD, “Infection and prematurity: the evidence is in,” Medical Tribune Opinion, Feb. 6, 1997.
McGregor, James A., MD, CM, “Group B Strep: A Patient/Provider Approach for Optimizing Care”.
The Jesse Cause, “Interview of Parents of GBS-infected Babies,” July 1997-Sept. 2002.
Akin, W., Fatheree, D., Klausing, C., “Vaginal Exams in Late Pregnancy”.
Akin, W., Fatheree, D., Klausing, C., “Stripping the Membranes”.
DeMott, K., "Cervical Manipulations linked to Perinatal Sepsis: Consider GBS-specific Chemoprophylaxis." (Eight Case Reports),” OB/GYN News, Oct. 15, 2001.
Hannah, Mary E. MD,CM, et. al. "Maternal colonization with Group B Streptococcus and prelabor rupture of membranes at term: The role of induction in labor". Am J Obstet Gynecol 177:780-785. 1997.
ACOG Committee on Obstetric Practice, Committee Opinion Number 173, June 1996.
Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, Canadian Pediatric Society. National Consensus statement on the prevention of early-onset group B streptococcal infections in the newborn. J Soc Obstet Gynaecol Can 1997 Publication number 61. June 1997.
Rosenstein N., Schuchat A. Neonatal GBS Disease Study Group. "Opportunities for prevention of perinatal group B streptococcal disease: A multistate surveillance analysis". Obstet Gynecol 90:901-6. 1997.

Siegel, Jane D. MD, Cushion, Nancy B., MBA, RN. "Prevention of Early-Onset Group B Streptococcal Disease: Another Look at Single-Dose Penicillin at Birth". Obstet Gynecol 87:692-8. 1996.

Copyright © 1999-2006 Jesse Cause Foundation