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ACOG CO#782, Prevention of Group B Streptococcal Early-Onset Disease in Newborns

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of newborn infection (1). The primary risk factor for neonatal GBS early-onset disease (EOD) is maternal colonization of the genitourinary and gastrointestinal tracts. Approximately 50% of women who are colonized with GBS will transmit the bacteria to their newborns. Vertical transmission usually occurs during labor or after rupture of membranes. In the absence of intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis, 1 – 2% of those newborns will develop GBS EOD. Other risk factors include gestational age of less than 37 weeks, very low birth weight, prolonged rupture of membranes, intraamniotic infection, young maternal age, and maternal black race. The key obstetric measures necessary for effective prevention of GBS EOD continue to include universal prenatal screening by vaginal–rectal culture, correct specimen collection and processing, appropriate implementation of intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis, and coordination with pediatric care providers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends performing universal GBS screening between 36 0/7 and 37 6/7 weeks of gestation. All women whose vaginal–rectal cultures at 36 0/7 and 37 6/7 weeks of gestation are positive for GBS should receive appropriate intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis unless a prelabor cesarean birth is performed in the setting of intact membranes. Although a shorter duration of recommended intrapartum antibiotics is less effective than 4 or more hours of prophylaxis, 2 hours of antibiotic exposure has been shown to reduce GBS vaginal colony counts and decrease the frequency of a clinical neonatal sepsis diagnosis. Obstetric interventions, when necessary, should not be delayed solely to provide 4 hours of antibiotic administration before birth. This Committee Opinion, including Table 1, Box 2, and Figures 1–3, updates and replaces the obstetric components of the CDC 2010 guidelines, “Prevention of Perinatal Group B Streptococcal Disease: Revised Guidelines From CDC, 2010.”


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