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Women Birth. 2013 Jun;26(2):152-7. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2012.10.004. Epub 2012 Nov 23.

Assisting women to make informed choices about screening for Group B Streptococcus in pregnancy: a critical review of the evidence.

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Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.


The approach to the prevention of early onset GBS disease in the newborn varies considerably from country to country. The Centre for Disease Control in the United States advocates universal culture based screening with the administration of intra-partum antibiotics, usually benzylpenicillin or ampicillin, to women who are colonised with GBS. National groups in the UK and New Zealand advocate a risk-based approach where intra-partum antibiotics are given to women with identified risk factors. The Canadian Taskforce on preventive health care has identified a third approach; where intra-partum antibiotics are given to women with a positive GBS culture and an identified risk factor. There are no national guidelines or consensus in Australia. The aim of this paper is to explore the evidence for screening and intrapartum prophylaxis for GBS. The three main methods of detection and management of GBS in pregnancy are described and the implications for women and midwifery practice are addressed. It is hoped that this discussion will provide women, midwives and other clinicians with a summary of the evidence, risks and benefits to enable informed decision making.

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