Group B Streptococcus (GBS), is the UK's most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborn babies, and meningitis in babies up to the age of 3 months.
The test helps to detect women carrying GBS, who are more at risk of passing the bacteria onto their baby during labour.
Screening for GBS is not routinely offered on the NHS, but laboratory testing is commonly undertaken at The Doctors Laboratory (www.tdlpathology.com) using the GBS-specific Enriched Culture Medium (ECM) test.
The GBS-specific ECM is the international ‘gold standard’ for
detecting GBS carriage and means taking swab samples from the low vagina and rectum
which are sent off to the lab for analysis.
These tests are highly reliable and are good predictors of your GBS carriage status for 5 weeks after the swabs have been taken. The ECM test is the test recommended for use by the Royal College of Obstetricians& Gynaecologists for women who carried GBS in their previous pregnancy.
Thousands of babies are exposed to GBS with no consequence. It is not known why some babies are susceptible to the bacteria and develop infection.
By testing for GBS and the mother receiving treatment (via intravenous antibiotics), the bacteria can be prevented from passing to the baby during labour and prevent life-threatening infections.
If a woman who carries GBS is given the recommended antibiotics in labour, the baby’s risk is reduced by an estimated 85-90%.