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Group B Strep, or GBS, is a relatively common bacterium that is found in the intestinal tract of up to 40 percent of all adults at any given time. Normally, this is no cause for concern and there are no symptoms. But for pregnant women, GBS colonization poses a real risk. It can be passed on to a baby during birth, and lead to serious complications including meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis. Though GBS disease in newborns is extremely rare, even if they had infected mothers, those symptoms are reason enough to take a GBS infection very seriously. Treatment is available, usually in the form of antibiotics. But is it possible to prevent Group B Strep in pregnancy?

Some people say that a healthy diet, and the use of probiotic products, reduces the risk of Group B Strep. There is certainly no argument against a healthy diet, but there is no evidence that this theory has any basis in fact at all. In the United States, Group B Steptococcus screening and testing is recommended for every pregnant woman between 35 and 37 weeks. Preventing GBS might not be possible, but treating it prenatally might be effective. Antibiotics are advised in the US, while Hibiclens solutions are used more commonly in European countries.

Alternative prenatal treatments for Group B Strep include garlic (inserting it into the vagina), or tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is potent stuff, so it needs to be heavily diluted. To clear the birth canal of GBS, soaking a tampon in the tea tree oil solution and inserting it is recommended by herbalists. This may or may not cure GBS, but some women will think it is worth a try. If GBS infection is still present when labor starts, IV antibiotics or Hibiclens are the treatment options.

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