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Revised Guidance Issued on Prevention of GBS Infection

March 21, 2011

Washington, DC -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) today issued revised guidelines for the prevention and treatment of perinatal group B streptococcal (GBS) disease. The document summarizes the 2010 US Centers for Disease Control GBS guidelines, which The College has endorsed, and highlights important changes in clinical practice for ob-gyns.

GBS—a bacteria that can cause infections of the blood (sepsis), lungs, brain, or spinal cord in newborns—is fatal in about 5% of babies who carry it. An estimated 10%-30% of pregnant women are infected with GBS and up to 2% will transmit it to their newborns during delivery. Many GBS infections occur between six hours and seven days of birth, though late-onset infections can develop after the first week of life. Infants born to black and Hispanic women, and women younger than age 20 are at increased risk.

The College recommends that all pregnant women be screened for GBS at 35-37 weeks' gestation and that preventive antibiotics be given to women who test positive during labor. "National guidelines to prevent mother-to-infant GBS transmission have led to an 80% reduction in early onset sepsis in neonates," said Ronald S. Gibbs, MD, a member of The College's Committee on Obstetric Practice who helped develop the document. "Unfortunately, despite these strides, GBS remains the leading cause of infectious mortality and morbidity among newborns.

"While the core recommendations are the same, the new document provides further direction for clinicians in implementing and improving prevention strategies," Dr. Gibbs added. Included are updated case scenarios for GBS screening and antibiotic treatment for women with preterm labor or preterm premature rupture of membranes; management plans for newborns at risk of early-onset GBS disease; and updated antibiotic regimens for women with penicillin allergy.

Committee Opinion #485, "Prevention of Early Onset Group B Streptoccocal Disease in Newborns," is published in the April 2011 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 55,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women's health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org


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