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Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month – October 2023

Prenatal-onset G.B.S. Disease Recognition Month occurs every October. It was initiated by Group B Strep International. The three types of G.B.S. are prenatal-onset, early-onset, and late-onset but prenatal-onset is often overlooked or not recognized.

G.B.S. stands for Group B Streptococcus. This is bacteria that is found in the intestine, vagina, and rectum in about 25% of all healthy pregnant women. Newborn babies and adults can be infected by group B strep and most pregnant women who have the bacteria have no symptoms.

G.B.S. can infect the urinary tract, placenta, womb, and amniotic fluid. This infection can also be passed to babies during labor and delivery.

History of Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month

Prenatal-onset G.B.S. Disease Recognition Month aims to promote awareness that group B strep (G.B.S.) can infect babies even before birth. It is sponsored by Group B Strep International. In April 2006, Group B Strep International was formed. It was created by John MacDonald and Marti Perhach who each lost a daughter to group B strep. It began as a national project in conjunction with a sister organization but then expanded its scope and the audience of the campaign worldwide.

Early-onset (birth through the first week of life) and late-onset (after the first week of life to several months of age) are the two types of G.B.S. disease that current medical literature acknowledges. However, babies are also susceptible to group B strep during pregnancy.

It was in the late 1880s that G.B.S. was first recognized as a pathogen by Edmond Nocard and Mollereau. In 1938, three fatal cases of puerperal infections caused by G.B.S. were reported. This was the first mention of the significance of G.B.S. as a human pathogen. By the early 1960s, G.B.S. was recognized as the main cause of infections in newborns.

Generally, G.B.S. is a harmless bacterium that is part of the human microbiota colonizing the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts of up to 30% of healthy human adults. In the western world, G.B.S. is the main cause of bacterial infections in newborns, such as sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. This can lead to death or long-term after-effects.

Fortunately, early-onset G.B.S. fatality rates have declined, from 50% observed in studies from the 1970s to between two and 10% in recent years.

In 2000–2001, the reported overall incidence of G.B.S. infection in newborn babies in the U.K. was 0.72 per 1,000 live births. Today, the mortality associated with early-onset G.B.S. E.O.D. in the U.S. is 2.1% among term newborns and 19.2% among preterm newborns.

In the United States and Canada, the rate of early-onset infection reduced by more than half from 0.7 cases per 1000 live births in the U.S in 1997. In 2004, it reduced to 0.32 cases per 1,000 live births.

Even though group B strep can infect babies before birth, Prenatal-onset G.B.S. is not yet a widely-known disease. There are no official statistics on how many babies have been miscarried or stillborn due to G.B.S. It is believed that the reason prenatal-onset G.B.S. disease has not been officially recognized is that general medical opinion considers G.B.S.-caused miscarriages and stillbirths to be rare occurrences.

Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month timeline

1880s
G.B.S. is Recognized as a Pathogen

G.B.S. is first recognized as a pathogen by Nocard and Mollereau.

1938
Recognized as a Human Pathogen

G.B.S. is mentioned in research as a human pathogen for the first time.

2002
New C.D.C. Research on G.B.S. is Released

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the C.D.C. specifically states that GBS can cross intact amniotic membranes.

April 2006
Group B Strep International is Formed

Group B Strep International is founded by John MacDonald and Marti Perhach.

2018
The First Annual G.B.S. Virtual Symposium

The First Annual Virtual Symposium on Prenatal-onset Group B Strep Disease is held from October 15 to 25.

Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month FAQs

What is late-onset G.B.S?

Late-onset G.B.S. can occur after the first week of life to several months of age. Symptoms include coughing or congestion, trouble eating, fever, drowsiness, or seizures.

Can G.B.S. cause preterm labor?

G.B.S. infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, early (premature) labor, or stillbirth. However, this is rare.

What is the procedure if I test positive for group B strep when pregnant?

You will need treatment to prevent an infection that could affect your baby.

How to Observe Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month

  1. Donate to the cause

    Donate whatever you can to Group B Strep International. This enables them to achieve their mission of promoting awareness and prevention of group B strep disease. ​

  2. Organize a fundraiser

    Take the initiative to arrange a fundraiser to make better resources on group B strep disease available. The funds raised by your community can help in spreading much-needed awareness.

  3. Spread the message

    Post on social media or talk to other parents or pregnant women. You can use the hashtag #starttheGBSconversation to educate more people about the disease.

5 Facts About Group B Strep

  1. One in four pregnant women carry G.B.S.

    About one in four pregnant women carry G.B.S. bacteria in their bodies.

  2. There may be no symptoms

    People may be asymptomatic which means G.B.S. bacteria may come and go in people’s bodies without symptoms.

  3. It can likely cause meningitis

    In the United States, the leading cause of meningitis and bloodstream infections in a newborn’s first three months of life is G.B.S. bacteria.

  4. Newborns of infected mothers are at risk

    If the mother tests positive during pregnancy, the risk of newborns getting G.B.S. disease increases.

  5. The bacteria grows back quickly

    Pregnant women must take antibiotics during labor to prevent early-onset of G.B.S. disease in newborns; the antibiotics only help during labor because the bacteria grow back quickly.

Why Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month is Important

  1. It exposes people to an important reality

    Most people out there are still unaware of even the existence of G.B.S. Any information on it is life-saving and should be shared widely.

  2. It helps us become better parents

    Knowledge about prenatal-onset G.B.S. is something that every parent-to-be should have. Knowledge about this condition can help us make better and healthier choices as future parents.

  3. It benefits people across the world

    Group B Strep International is also developing G.B.S. awareness and prevention resources for countries that do not have any readily available programs. This can be a blessing for so many families out there.

Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month dates

YearDateDay
2023October 1Sunday
2024October 1Tuesday
2025October 1Wednesday
2026October 1Thursday
2027October 1Friday
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