Women who come into the Hospital in full labor but without having had a GBS culture are typically treated with antibiotics to protect the infant from a group B Strep infection. This occurs even if the woman has not tested positive for Strep, but when there has been no proof that she is negative. In an effort to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in pregnant women, researchers are studying a new rapid culture that could produce a positive or negative result in a fraction of the time allowing doctors to treat only women who are infected.

The culture screen with the test for GBS (group B strep). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates up to 30% of women are infected with GBS at any given time. This infection can be passed to the newborn during birth via the birth canal and cause sepsis, meningitis or pneumonia. The effect on infants can be life-threatening, so obstetricians and caregivers treat every woman in an effort to reduce the risk of infection even before a strep test has been completed. The current culture test takes two to three days to complete; too much time for a woman in active labor.

The new test by NanoLogix takes only four hours to produce a positive or negative result. While this test may not stop all overuse of antibiotics, especially for pregnant women reporting to the emergency room well into active labor, it could greatly impact the use of antibiotics in women who spend more than four hours in labor.

Source: Jonathon Faro MD, Ph.D., and associates. University of Texas Health Science Center. 29 November 2010.