The UK NSC recommendation on Group B Streptococcus screening in pregnancy (currently in consultation)
Find general information about population health screening.
More about Group B Streptococcus
GBS is one of many bacteria that can be present in our bodies. It usually causes no harm. This situation is called carrying GBS or being colonised with GBS. GBS is commonly found in the digestive system and the female reproductive system. It's estimated that about one in four pregnant women in the UK carry GBS.
Around the time of labour and birth, many babies come into contact with GBS and are colonised by the bacteria. Most pregnant women who carry GBS bacteria have healthy babies. However, there's a small risk that GBS can pass to the baby during childbirth. Rarely, GBS infection in newborn babies can cause serious complications that can be life-threatening.
Extremely rarely, GBS infection during pregnancy can also cause miscarriage, early (premature) labour or stillbirth. If a baby develops GBS infection less than seven days after birth, it's known as early-onset GBS infection. Most babies who become infected develop symptoms within 12 hours of birth.
It's estimated that about one in 2,000 babies born in the UK and Ireland develops early-onset GBS infection. This means that every year in the UK (with 680,000 births a year) around 340 babies will develop early-onset GBS infection.
There are a number of clinical risk factors which increase the risk of EOGBS sepsis. These include preterm birth (less than 37 weeks gestation), prolonged rupture of the membranes and maternal fever in labour. In the UK healthcare professionals are encouraged to identify and manage high risk pregnancies on the basis of an assessment of these risk factors.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have published a guideline for professionals and information for the public.
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 documentsGBS FAQs May 2015 (PDF document, 71KB, 26/05/15)
Review of Group B Streptococcus against UK NSC criteria July 2012 (PDF document, 676KB, 16/07/12)
Confidentiality and disclosure
Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be subject to publication or release to other parties or to disclosure in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004). If you want information, including personal data that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence.
In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the UK National Screening Committee.
Any request for information to be treated in confidence will be taken into consideration in the publication of responses to the consultation. The UK National Screening Committee intends to publish all responses following the closure of the consultation period, however we will not publish responses from respondents who request that any of the information in their response, including personal data, should be handled in confidence. The UK National Screening Committee reserves the right not to publish or take into account any representations which are openly offensive or defamatory.
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