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J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2013 Oct;35(10):939-948. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(15)30818-5.

The prevention of early-onset neonatal group B streptococcal disease.

Author information

Vancouver BC.
Halifax NS.
Toronto ON.
Quebec QC.
Montreal QC.
Edmonton AB.
Calgary AB.
Trois-Rivieres QC.
Ottawa ON.


in English, French


To review the evidence in the literature and to provide recommendations on the management of pregnant women in labour for the prevention of early-onset neonatal group B streptococcal disease. The key revisions in this updated guideline include changed recommendations for regimens for antibiotic prophylaxis, susceptibility testing, and management of women with pre-labour rupture of membranes.


Maternal outcomes evaluated included exposure to antibiotics in pregnancy and labour and complications related to antibiotic use. Neonatal outcomes of rates of early-onset group B streptococcal infections are evaluated.


Published literature was retrieved through searches of MEDLINE, CINAHL, and The Cochrane Library from January 1980 to July 2012 using appropriate controlled vocabulary and key words (group B streptococcus, antibiotic therapy, infection, prevention). Results were restricted to systematic reviews, randomized control trials/controlled clinical trials, and observational studies. There were no date or language restrictions. Searches were updated on a regular basis and incorporated in the guideline to May 2013. Grey (unpublished) literature was identified through searching the websites of health technology assessment and health technology-related agencies, clinical practice guideline collections, clinical trial registries, and national and international medical specialty societies.


The quality of evidence in this document was rated using the criteria described in the Report of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (Table 1).


The recommendations in this guideline are designed to help clinicians identify and manage pregnancies at risk for neonatal group B streptococcal disease to optimize maternal and perinatal outcomes. No cost-benefit analysis is provided.


There is good evidence based on randomized control trial data that in women with pre-labour rupture of membranes at term who are colonized with group B streptococcus, rates of neonatal infection are reduced with induction of labour. (I) There is no evidence to support safe neonatal outcomes with expectant management in this clinical situation.


1. Offer all women screening for colonization with group B streptococcus at 35 to 37 weeks' gestation with culture taken from one swab first to the vagina and then to the rectum (through the anal sphincter). (II-1A) This includes women with planned Caesarean delivery because of their risk of labour or ruptured membranes earlier than the scheduled Caesarean delivery. (II-2B) 2. Because of the association of heavy colonization with early onset neonatal disease, provide intravenous antibiotic prophylaxis for group B streptococcus at the onset of labour or rupture of the membranes to: • any woman positive for group B streptococcus by vaginal/rectal swab culture screening done at 35 to 37 weeks' gestation (II-2B); • any woman with an infant previously infected with group B streptococcus (II-3B); • any woman with documented group B streptococcus bacteriuria (regardless of level of colony-forming units) in the current pregnancy. (II-2A) 3. Manage all women who are < 37 weeks' gestation and in labour or with rupture of membranes with intravenous group B streptococcus antibiotic prophylaxis for a minimum of 48 hours, unless there has been a negative vaginal/rectal swab culture or rapid nucleic acid-based test within the previous 5 weeks. (II-3A) 4. Treat all women with intrapartum fever and signs of chorioamnionitis with broad spectrum intravenous antibiotics targeting chorioamnionitis and including coverage for group B streptococcus, regardless of group B streptococcus status and gestational age. (II-2A) 5. Request antibiotic susceptibility testing on group B streptococcus-positive urine and vaginal/rectal swab cultures in women who are thought to have a significant risk of anaphylaxis from penicillin. (II-1A) 6. If a woman with pre-labour rupture of membranes at ≥ 37 weeks' gestation is positive for group B streptococcus by vaginal/rectal swab culture screening, has had group B streptococcus bacteriuria in the current pregnancy, or has had an infant previously affected by group B streptococcus disease, administer intravenous group B streptococcus antibiotic prophylaxis. Immediate obstetrical delivery (such as induction of labour) is indicated, as described in the Induction of Labour guideline published by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist in September 2013. (II-2B) 7. At ≥ 37 weeks' gestation, if group B streptococcus colonization status is unknown and the 35- to 37-week culture was not performed or the result is unavailable and the membranes have been ruptured for greater than 18 hours, administer intravenous group B streptococcus antibiotic prophylaxis. (II-2B) 8. If a woman with pre-labour rupture of membranes at < 37 weeks' gestation has an unknown or positive group B streptococcus culture status, administer intravenous group B streptococcus prophylaxis for 48 hours, as well as other antibiotics if indicated, while awaiting spontaneous or obstetrically indicated labour. (II-3B).


Group B streptococcus; antibiotic therapy; infection; prevention

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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