Topic Overview

Some people carry group B streptococcus bacteria in their body but don't get sick. Without knowing it, a woman who has group B streptococci in her birth canal or in her colon can pass the bacteria to her baby when she is giving birth. This can cause meningitis in the baby.

Meningitis caused by these bacteria also occurs in adults older than 60, especially those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, cancer, alcohol dependence, and liver or kidney failure.

New guidelines for prevention of group B streptococci have made the disease less common. The guidelines include:footnote 1

  • Screening all pregnant women at 35 to 37 weeks.
  • Giving antibiotics during labour to women who have the bacteria.



  1. Money DM, Allen VM (2013). The prevention of early-onset neonatal group b streptococcal disease. SOGC Clinical Practice Guidelines No. 298. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 35(10): 939-948. Also available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017