Rates of serious group B strep (GBS) infections are higher among newborns, but anyone can get GBS disease. Below are some important facts about GBS disease in babies, pregnant women, and others.
- Among babies, there are 2 main types of GBS disease:
- Early-onset — occurs during the first week of life.
- Late-onset — occurs from the first week through three months of life.
- In the United States, GBS bacteria are a leading cause of meningitis and bloodstream infections in a newborn’s first three months of life.
- Early-onset disease used to be the most common type of GBS disease in babies. Today, because of effective early-onset disease prevention, early- and late-onset disease occur at similarly low rates.
- In the United States on average each year:
- About 900 babies get early-onset GBS disease.
- About 1,200 babies get late-onset GBS disease.
- Newborns are at increased risk for GBS disease if their mother tests positive for the bacteria during pregnancy.
- 2 to 3 in every 50 babies (4 to 6%) who develop GBS disease will die.
- About 1 in 4 pregnant women carry GBS bacteria in their body.
- Doctors should test pregnant woman for GBS bacteria when they are 36 through 37 weeks pregnant.
- Giving pregnant women antibiotics through the vein (IV) during labor can prevent most early-onset GBS disease in newborns.
- A pregnant woman who tests positive for GBS bacteria and gets antibiotics during labor has only a 1 in 4,000 chance of delivering a baby who will develop GBS disease. If she does not receive antibiotics during labor, her chance of delivering a baby who will develop GBS disease is 1 in 200.
- Pregnant women cannot take antibiotics to prevent early-onset GBS disease in newborns before labor. The bacteria can grow back quickly. The antibiotics only help during labor.
- GBS bacteria may come and go in people’s bodies without symptoms.
- On average, about 1 in 20 non-pregnant adults with serious GBS infections die.
- The rate of serious group B strep disease increases with age:
- There are 10 cases in every 100,000 non-pregnant adults each year.
- There are 25 cases in every 100,000 adults 65 years or older each year.
- The average age of cases in non-pregnant adults is about 60 years old.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Active Bacterial Core Surveillance Report, Emerging Infections Program Network, Group B Streptococcus, 2016 pdf icon[1 page].
- Francois Watkins LK, McGee L, Schrag SJ, Beall B, Jain JH, Pondo T, et al. Epidemiology of invasive group B streptococcal infections among nonpregnant adults in the United States, 2008–2016external icon. JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]
- Nanduri SA, Petit S, Smelser C, Apostol M, Alden NB, Harrison LH, et al. Epidemiology of invasive early-onset and late-onset group B streptococcal disease in the United States, 2006 to 2015: Multistate laboratory and population-based surveillanceexternal icon. JAMA Pediatrics. 2019 Jan 14. [Epub ahead of print]
Page last reviewed: June 25, 2019