As if health officials and medical doctors recommending flu vaccines for pregnant women, and now, the TDaP during pregnancy (and to all potential caregivers of the newborn), wasn’t enough, a further assault on pregnant women involves the screening for Group B Strep (GBS).
Routine Group B Strep Screening of Pregnant Women
The routine Group B Strep screening occurs at 35-37 weeks. It is believed (in medical circles) that exposure of some babies to this typically commensal inhabitant of the vaginal community, may cause harm.
However, it is not at all clear which babies are at risk when exposed and most babies who are exposed are perfectly healthy and do not have any complications. The medical solution to this issue is to screen all pregnant women and to administer IV antibiotics intrapartum (during labor and/or delivery) to any women who test positive.
Prevention of GBS infections
The definition of early-onset neonatal GBS infections are GBS sepsis (blood infection), meningitis, or pneumonia beginning at less than 7 days of life. There might also be vision or hearing loss – although this is quite rare. There have been three approaches for preventing early-onset neonatal GBS infections. These are:
- Universal screening of all pregnant women for GBS colonization, with intrapartum antibiotics given to those who have a positive test result
- Universal screening of all pregnant women, with intrapartum antibiotics given only to those who have a positive test result as well as other risk factors for GBS transmission
- Intrapartum antibiotics for all women with risk factors for GBS transmission without prior screening
Effects on the Microbiome of the Baby
So many questions arise, such as, is the screening accurate? It is a swab of the vaginal mucosa and does not give any indication of the density of the colonization. There is a urine test, but this is not the screening test that is used. How many false positives are there?
Do pregnant women really need this antibiotic treatment at precisely the time when the baby is due to travel through the birth canal? Research has now shown that this is a critical time when baby picks up the vaginal flora from the mother that sets the stage for the development of their own microbiome.
We know that when this step is missed – in the case of cesarean section – the baby begins life with fewer flora and already the potential for gut dysbiosis and increased risk of allergy, asthma and eczema.
We know that breastfeeding also supports and supplies beneficial bacteria to the developing infant’s microbiome.
How Much Does This Screening Help?
According to this study, Epidemiology of early-onset neonatal group B streptococcal infection, Implications for screening,
In fact, 3449 women (100 000÷29) would require universal screening to prevent a single case of early-onset neonatal GBS disease that would be missed using a risk-based approach (Table 3). The case-fatality rate for early-onset neonatal GBS infection has been previously reported at 5.0%.11 This being the case, the number needed to be screened increases to 68 966 to prevent a single death attributed to GBS.
Additionally, this Cochrane Review found no conclusive evidence to support the use of antibiotics in GBS positive women.
Another author concluded that,
Two in 10,000 babies may be saved by antibiotics during birth, but this comes at the cost of giving 1/3 of all pregnant women antibiotics.
Now, I wouldn’t want my baby to get sick, but killing off the vaginal flora with unnecessary antibiotics in so many mothers, along with the concerns we have of promoting antibiotic-resistant bacteria with each unnecessary treatment, has to have some weight in this discussion.
Clinical Risk Factors for GBS Transmission
Clinical risk factors for transmission are defined by the following:
- Positive results of a swab of the vaginal and rectal areas for GBS at any time during pregnancy
- GBS infection in a a previous baby
- Intrapartum fever (temperature of 38ºC or higher or 100.4ºF )
- Preterm labor at less than 37 weeks
- Prolonged rupture of membranes more than 18 hours
In this country, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend universal screening and intrapartum antibiotics for all GBS carriers.
However, other countries use the strategy of promoting patient discussion regarding intrapartum antibiotics based on specific risk factors.
The exploding research into the human microbiome reveals other, less invasive methods of dealing with potential pathogenic bacteria.
We can use probiotics and fermented foods to crowd out the pathogenic bacteria and to help boost the overall immune response of the mother. These antibodies created by the mother would be passed on to the baby and be protective.
Alkalizing the body tissues by eating lots of green vegetables and/or juicing can have a very beneficial effect as well.
We need more research into these methods rather than blasting the mother with medicine that decimates her microbial communities, so badly needed by the newborn.
Wouldn’t that make more sense?
The fact is, developing an antibiotic-resistant superbug from IV antibiotics is much riskier than the chance of saving your baby from GBS infection.
Especially in this era of grave concerns about antibiotic resistance. There are also other factors to consider, such as, potential maternal anaphylaxis as a result of the assault of antibiotics on the mother’s microbiome as well as the possibility of other serious infections like sepsis and E. coli in the newborn as a result of antibiotic use.
This is the same mentality as that behind the Hep B vaccine given the moment of birth. If the mother is carrying Hepatitis B, the baby may be harmed. However, mothers can be tested before birth to identify them as carriers. Clearly, if these tests were performed with routine prenatal testing, they would be able to identify carrier or infected mothers and therefore treatment of babies would follow. They wouldn’t have to inject all newborns with toxic materials that interfere with their immature immune systems.
Perhaps garlic and probiotics are all that is needed, as Dr. Kelly Brogan suggests in this comprehensive article.
Is it Big Pharma that is behind pushing vaccines and pharmaceutical treatments on everyone they can draw in, by creating fear and anxiety, manipulating statistics and history and infiltrating government?
Or, is it just a runaway boulder trampling everyone in its path, with no end in sight? What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!
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