New RCOG Guidelines issued on Group B Strep

Published on: 13/09/2017

New Green-top guidelines issued today by the Royal College Of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians recommend all pregnant women who go into labour before 37 weeks should be given antibiotics to protect their baby from a potentially deadly infection called Group B Strep (GBS). Hundreds of newborn babies a year in the UK catch it. With prompt treatment, most can make a full recovery.

Currently, 2 in every 20 infected babies develops a disability and one in every 20 dies. Group B Strep bacteria can live harmlessly in the lower vaginal tract – about one in four women has it – and it can be passed on to the baby during delivery. Most women will not realise they are a carrier.

The key recommendations are that:

– All pregnant women are provided with an information leaflet on group B Strep (new)

-Women who carried GBS in a previous pregnancy should be offered the option of GBS-specific (ECM) testing for GBS late in the current pregnancy (new)

-Women are offered intravenous antibiotics in labour where:
Mum is in established preterm labour (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) (new)
GBS has been detected during the current pregnancy
GBS was detected in a previous pregnancy and the baby was healthy, and Mum has not had a negative ECM test in the current pregnancy (new)
A previous baby developed GBS infection
Mum has a fever in labour of 38 or higher

These new recommendations, not least providing pregnant women clear, concise information, will play a vital role in raising awareness and empowering women to make informed decisions about what is right for them and their babies.
The updated guidelines from the RCOG say all pregnant women should be given information about the condition to raise awareness by being given a clear and concise patient information leaflet on Group B Strep which is currently being produced in partnership with the charity Group B Strep Support.

Chief executive Jane Plumb said: “The RCOG guideline is a significant improvement on previous editions, however, the UK National Screening Committee still recommends against offering GBS screening to all pregnant women, ignoring international evidence that shows such screening reduces GBS infection, disability and death in newborn babies.”

For more information about Group B Strep disease, please visit the Group B Strep Support website.

The new RCOG Green-top Guidelines can be read here.