The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has successfully developed a more rapid and efficient test to screen laboring mothers for Group B streptococcus (GBS), a bacteria transmitted to newborns via the birth canal, and known to be a common cause of sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia in the immediate postpartum period.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is estimated that 25-30 percent of women unknowingly carry the bacteria because it causes very few symptoms. The standard test produces results in 48 hours, while this new development accomplishes the screening as soon as six and a half hours, as well as determining the subject’s sensitivity to penicillin. This new test should prove to be beneficial for women in labor who have not been screened for GBS colonization, especially the 13 percent who present with pre-term labor.
Jonathan Faro, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston is quoted on Science Daily:
“This new test could change the management of patients who present to labor and delivery with threatened preterm labor and aren’t expected to deliver right away. It would likely gain use in this patient population, which is a small number, but still very significant clinically. We could target this population and this would help cut down on overuse of resources and minimize our contribution to the increased level of bacterial resistance.”
This study was presented just last month at the 33rd annual Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine meeting, and is now published online in “Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology.”