Currently, UK guidelines recommend a ‘risk factor’ approach to determine which women should be offered antibiotics in labour to prevent group B Strep (GBS) infection in newborn babies (click here for more information). However, the rate of GBS infections in babies has risen, not fallen. Up to 40% of newborn babies with GBS infection have no risk factors, apart from their mother unknowingly carrying GBS.
Testing is the only way to know if you are carrying GBS. If you are, steps can be taken to minimise the risk of your newborn baby developing GBS infection. Routine screening of all pregnant women for GBS carriage is not currently recommended by the UK National Screening Committee.
The ECM (enriched culture medium) test is currently the best test available for detecting GBS carriage. This method is recommended by Public Health England in their UK Standard B58 but it is not usually available within the NHS.
Below is more information about testing for group B Strep carriage, including where to obtain GBS-specific tests (ECM tests) that follow PHE’s UK Standard.