Group B strep

Group B strep is normally harmless and most people will not realise they have it.

It's usually only a problem:

This page focuses on group B strep in pregnancy and babies.

Group B strep in pregnancy

Group B strep is common in pregnancy and rarely causes any problems.

It's not routinely tested for, but may be found during tests carried out for another reason, such as a urine test or vaginal swab.

Risks in pregnancy

If you have group B strep while you're pregnant:

What to do if you're worried

If you're worried about group B strep, speak to your midwife or GP for advice.

Talk to them about the risks to your baby and ask their advice about whether to get tested.

Routine testing is not currently recommended and tests are rarely done on the NHS. This is because group B strep is very common and testing cannot predict whether a baby will get an infection. You can pay for a test privately.

Find out more about getting tested for group B strep on the Group B Strep Support website

What happens if you have group B strep

If tests find group B strep while you're pregnant, or you've had a baby that's been affected by it before, you may need extra care and treatment.

You may be advised to:

Group B strep in babies

If you had group B strep during pregnancy, there's a small risk it could spread to your baby and make them very ill.

If this happens, it's usually soon after they're born. Your baby may be monitored in hospital for up to 12 hours to check for any problems.

They'll be given antibiotics into a vein if they develop symptoms.

What to look for after leaving hospital

Occasionally, symptoms of a group B strep infection in a baby can develop up to 3 months after birth.

Symptoms may include:

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • your baby has symptoms of a group B strep infection

They may need treatment with antibiotics in hospital immediately.

Risks of group B strep in babies

Most babies with a group B strep infection make a full recovery if treated.

Some babies may develop serious problems like sepsis or meningitis.

This can cause lasting problems like hearing loss or loss of vision. Sometimes it can be fatal.

More information

Page last reviewed: 19 April 2024
Next review due: 19 April 2027