Baltimore Woman Finds Bacteria Living in Her Rectum

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When Sue Reichter arrived at her 37-week prenatal appointment, she was astounded to learn that she had a “not so rare” bacteria living in her vagina, lower intestine, and rectum. Reichter told us that her first reaction was fear. She was worried for her unborn baby and for herself. Secondly, she wondered how she had contracted it.

Sue’s obstetrician quickly absorbed much of her stress with a few more details. Apparently, this bacteria, known as Group B streptococcus or GBS, can be found in the rectum, lower intestine and the vagina of approximately 25% of all women. A woman who is said to be “positive for GBS”, is known to be “colonized” meaning while the bacteria is present, it is not causing infection.

Sue’s doctor assured her that her baby was safe and informed her that she would need antibiotics during labor to prevent the possibility of infection. He went on to say, “While GBS normally does not cause problems, when it does, it can be very serious. Approximately, 16,000 infants and adults contract GBS disease in the US each year. It causes devastating infection which affects the bloodstream and respiratory system.”

Routine prenatal testing for Group B strep occurs between 35-37 weeks of pregnancy, in order to prepare to protect babies of colonized mothers during childbirth. Sue is comforted by knowing the results of her test and that antibiotics during birth will keep her family safe. Sue’s husband is also comforted by the fact that GBS is NOT a sexually transmitted disease.

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