GBS infection in babies

GBS infection is diagnosed when the bacteria are grown from body fluids that are usually sterile, such as blood or spinal fluid. These are known as cultures and normally take 1-2 days to complete.

Most GBS infection in  babies show in the first hours and days of life. More rarely, GBS can cause infection in a baby during pregnancy, and cause stillbirth. There is some evidence to suggest that GBS may be a rare cause of late miscarriage.

GBS infection in newborn babies is usually described as being of early or late-onset. Early-onset is GBS infection which presents within the first 6 days of life. Late-onset is GBS infection which shows signs after the first week and before 3 months of life. The risk of a baby developing a GBS infection is rare after 1 month of age and very rare after 3 months.

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You can download our poster highlighting the most common signs of GBS infection in babies here.

Your baby’s GBS infection is not your fault

When a baby develops a group B Strep infection, Mums in particular are sometimes told that ‘you passed it on to your baby’ particularly when a newborn develops GBS infection. This can make Mums feel as though it’s somehow their fault.

It’s not.

20-40% of adults carry group B Strep quite normally. The bacteria live quite harmlessly in our bowel and, in women, in the vagina. Many babies born to Mums who are carrying the bacteria become colonised themselves. A small proportion of babies – for reasons that we don’t fully understand – are susceptible to group B Strep and, when exposed to it, develop infection rather than being able to cope with it normally.

That’s not the mother’s fault (nor the father’s). And there is no reason for any parent to feel guilty about their baby developing a group B Strep infection.