Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Be Tested For Group B Strep
“Nigeria has one of the highest rates of mortality of pregnant mothers, and Group B Strep (GBS) and other pathogens contribute to these deaths,” says Shannon Manning, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University. “GBS can cause stillbirth, premature birth, and, after the baby is born, it can cause meningitis and sepsis.”
Group B strep (GBS) is a type of common bacteria normally found in the vaginas of many healthy women (estimates are between 10 and 35 percent of all women). It is harmless to those who have it, but without treatment, it can be transmitted to the baby during childbirth.
GBS is the most common cause of sepsis (blood infection) and meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining surrounding the brain) in newborns. GBS is a frequent cause of newborn pneumonia and is more common than other, better known, newborn problems such as rubella, congenital syphilis, and spina bifida.
When Nigerian physician Nubwa Medugu began her residency program, it was common knowledge that GBS was the most-common cause of sepsis in infants worldwide. She, however, had never seen a single case during her early medical training in her home country.
“I hypothesized that lack of active surveillance and poor laboratory methods might be the reason as to why we weren’t detecting cases,” Medugu says. “I decided that my dissertation was going to answer those questions.”
Her hypothesis was right.
Medugu’s research led to Manning, a leading authority on decoding deadly pathogens. There were no labs in Nigeria that could run the necessary experiments needed to publish a paper. So, Medugu agreed to do the legwork while Manning supervised the lab work.
Medugu collected all of the necessary samples from 500 women and infants from four different hospitals while completing her residency and raising her three children. The samples went to Michigan State for examination.
The partnership proved successful the research showed that 34 percent of mothers and 19 percent of their newborns were colonized with GBS with 1 of the 500 babies developing the disease.
Compare this to the US, where a pregnant woman who receives standard antibiotics has only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby infected with GBS.
The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million of all babies that die annually can be saved with low-tech, low-cost care. Medugu agrees and she has already sparked many changes at her hospital in Abuja, Nigeria.
Today, Medugu and her colleagues routinely check for GBS infections.
Make sure you are tested for the Group B Strep before delivery to safe the life of your baby.