Skip to main content

Group B Strep


A group B strep (GBS) infection

is a condition caused by bacteria called group B streptococcus. GBS are normally found in the digestive organs or vagina. A person may carry GBS and not get infected and become sick. GBS may cause infections in the blood, lungs, or skin. GBS rarely cause serious problems in adults, but can be life-threatening to babies.

Signs and symptoms of a GBS infection:

GBS infection in babies may be grouped into early-onset and late-onset GBS infection. Early-onset GBS infection occurs within the first week of life, usually within 72 hours of birth. Late-onset GBS infection commonly appears after the first week of birth. Your baby may have any of the following:

  • Eating poorly or vomiting
  • Fast or slow heartbeat and trouble breathing
  • Fever, hypothermia (very low body temperature), or seizures
  • Irritability, drowsiness, or difficulty waking up
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Tense or bulging fontanel (soft spot on the top of his or her head)

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your baby has a seizure.
  • Your baby has trouble breathing and a very fast or slow heartbeat.

Call your baby's pediatrician if:

  • Your baby is drowsy or more sleepy than usual.
  • Your baby is vomiting often.
  • Your baby's symptoms get worse or return.
  • Your baby has a tense or bulging soft spot on the top of the head.
  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby is eating poorly.
  • Your baby's skin has swelling or a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.

How a GBS infection is diagnosed in babies:

  • Blood tests give healthcare providers information about how your baby's body is working.
  • X-rays may be used to check your child's heart, lungs, and chest wall.
  • A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, may be used to take fluid from around your baby's spinal cord. A small needle will be placed into his or her lower back. Fluid is pulled out with the needle. The fluid will be tested for infection.


Your baby may need to stay in the hospital for treatment. Antibiotic medicines are usually needed to treat GBS infection in babies.

Care for your baby at home:

  • Wash your hands often. This will help prevent the spread of germs. Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water after they go to the bathroom. Also wash hands after changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.
  • Have your baby rest. Your baby should rest as much as possible and get plenty of sleep. Have your baby rest in a dark, quiet room if he or she still turns away from bright lights.
  • Give ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed. These medicines help decrease pain and fever. They are available without a prescription. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it. Do not give your baby aspirin. Aspirin can cause Reye syndrome in children younger than 18 years. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage.

Decrease your baby's risk for a GBS infection:

Screening tests for GBS in mothers may be done during the 35th to 37th weeks of pregnancy. A sample from your vagina or rectum may be taken to check if you carry GBS. If you carry the bacteria, antibiotics will be given during your labor and delivery through an IV. Antibiotics will help prevent you from passing GBS to your baby.

For more information:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

Follow up with your baby's pediatrician as directed:

Your baby may develop hearing or learning problems. He or she should be carefully monitored by his or her pediatrician. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Group B Strep (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.