Current UK NSC recommendations > Group B Streptococcus

The UK NSC recommendation on Group B Streptococcus screening in pregnancy

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed March 2017
Next review due in 2019/20
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Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

Screening pregnant women for GBS is not recommended by the UK NSC because:

  • a woman may have a positive result a few weeks before labour and a negative result when she gives birth
  • GBS does not cause an infection in every baby- there is no way of telling which babies will be affected 
  • screening may result in giving many women antibiotics when they do not need them
  • it is not known if the benefits of screening outweigh the harms for most of the population
  • the proportion of babies affected by disease in countries where screening is carried out is similar to that in the UK

More about Group B Streptococcus

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria which is commonly found in the digestive system and the female reproductive system. It usually causes no harm. A pregnant women may pass on the bacteria to her baby. If a baby is infected with GBS before they are a week old they are said to have early-onset GBS.

» View the professional guideline

» View the public information


Faculty of Public Health
Group B Strep Support
National Childbirth Trust
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Midwives
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Related documents

icon Evidence summary- GBS (2012) (PDF document, 1.42MB, 04/05/20)

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