Previously, ACOG and other experts had recommended two options for identifying women with GBS: either a culture screening at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy or assessment of clinical risk factors at the time of labor.
GBS is a type of bacteria that can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or during labor and delivery. However, antibiotic treatment during labor of women who test positive for the disease may prevent transmission to the newborn.
The change in clinical practice follows new data and recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that show routine prenatal screening is significantly more effective than the risk-based approach, resulting in far fewer cases of early-onset GBS disease in newborns (occurring during the first week of life). In light of the new data, the risk-based strategy, except in certain circumstances, is no longer an acceptable alternative, reports ACOG.
"We now have strong evidence to make the case that routine screening for GBS is the superior method in preventing transmission of the bacteria from mother to child during delivery," notes Laura E. Riley, MD, an infectious disease specialist and chair of ACOG's Committee on Obstetric Practice which issued the new recommendations.
The committee's recommendations came after their review of the latest data, found to be the best available comparison of the two strategies (risk-based vs screening approach) to date. The committee opinion supports the CDC's newly revised guidelines that a screening-based approach for the prevention of early-onset GBS disease in the newborn be adopted.
"We have achieved great success in reducing the transmission of infectious diseases from mothers to newborns in recent years. By recommending universal GBS screening of all pregnant women, we look to further decrease perinatal morbidity and mortality rates in this country," notes Riley.