Care after birth2018-09-13T12:51:10+00:00

Care after birth

Congratulations on your baby’s arrival

Group B Strep infection in babies is not common but it is important to be aware of the signs. Around two out of every three babies who develop group B Strep infection show signs in their first 6 days of life (early-onset). Of these, almost nine out of every ten show signs within 12 hours of birth.

Below are the key recommendations for group B Strep prevention after birth:

Babies born at increased / high risk to Mums who HAVE received antibiotics for more than 4 hours before delivery should be:

  • Carefully assessed by an appropriately trained Paediatrician or Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (ANNP)
  • If completely healthy, no antibiotics for the baby are required
  • A period of monitoring (12-24 hours) may be appropriate for those at higher risk of infection

Babies born at increased / high risk to Mums who HAVE NOT received antibiotics for more than 4 hours before delivery should be:

  • Examined thoroughly and investigated by a Paediatrician or Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (ANNP) as appropiate
  • If completely healthy, no antibiotics for the baby are required
  • Observed for a minimum of 12 hours, ideally 24 hours

For well babies at the highest risk of infection, monitoring (12-24 hours) may be appropriate and this should be undertaken as a minimum if the baby is not screened and treated for infection.

If there’s any doubt about whether an infection is present, the baby should be started on intravenous antibiotics until it is known that they are not infected.

Early-onset group B Strep infection

Early-onset group B Strep infection in babies usually shows as sepsis or pneumonia. Less frequently, it shows as meningitis.

Read more about the key signs of early-onset GBS infection here.

Late-onset group B Strep infection

Late-onset group B Strep infection occurs after a baby’s first 6 days. It is uncommon after a baby is one month old and rare after three months old. Late-onset group B Strep infection in babies usually shows as meningitis or sepsis.

Currently there are no ways available to prevent late-onset group B Strep infection in babies. Knowing the signs is essential, as early treatment is key. Read more about the key signs of late-onset GBS infection here.

If your baby shows signs of group B Strep infection, contact your health professionals urgently, and mention GBS when you do.

What can be done after birth?

Group B Strep may be carried on the skin, so everyone should wash and dry their hands properly before handling a baby during their first three months of life. These are standard good hygiene measures for a young baby, not group B Strep specific.

Sometimes a positive result for group B Strep carriage only is reported after the baby is born, eg  when GBS has grown from a vaginal swab taken from Mum during labour, or when GBS has grown from a swab taken from the baby’s ear or nose after birth. Provided Mum and baby are both well, these swab results are simply showing that one or both is carrying GBS, not that either is infected.

Group B Strep infection in babies is not common but please do read about signs of GBS infection in babies as it is important to be aware and know when to take action – click here for more information.