Rapid GBS Test Recommended During Labor

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... GBS early-onset sepsis is a leading cause of neonatal infection. GBS is a bacterium that normally exists in the genital tracts of one-third of women; this bacterium comes and goes in the genital tracts of many women - often without women knowing that they have it. It can lead to an infection and can put an infant at risk if it is present in the mother during delivery. Women are routinely tested for GBS in their third trimester. If the bacterium is present, these women are given antibiotics during labor. Two days are needed to obtain results from the standard culture, which prevents women from being screened in labor. However, a new rapid test that returns results in approximately one hour can be administered at the time of labor.

... "We know that two-thirds of infants with GBS sepsis are born to mothers with negative third-trimester cultures, so we wanted to see how many women with a negative GBS test in the third trimester have a positive GBS result right before delivery. These babies in particular are at risk for acquiring GBS infection because the mothers are not given appropriate antibiotics in labor."

... GBS prevalence was 19.5% with the third-trimester culture and 23.8% with culture performed on samples collected during labor. Compared with the culture obtained during labor, the third-trimester culture correctly predicted GBS positivity at the time of labor only 69% of the time versus the rapid test which correctly predicted GBS positivity 91% of the time. The incidence of GBS discordance from the late third trimester to labor was 10% ...

This type of test is not available in most Sydney Hospitals but hopefully it will be widely available in coming years. It's a much better approach - screening for GBS in labour - rather than in pregnancy.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448