A more rapid laboratory test for pregnant women to detect potentially deadly Group B strep (GBS) has been successful at identifying GBS colonization in six and a half hours, according to the results of a study from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
The more rapid test could be helpful for the 13 percent of patients who experience pre-term labor before they are screened for GBS, which usually occurs between 35 and 37 weeks of gestation. The current standard test takes 48 hours. Antibiotics can be administered at the time of delivery to kill the bacteria.
"This new test could change the management of patients who present to labor and delivery with threatened preterm labor and aren't expected to deliver right away," said Jonathan Faro, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, part of UTHealth. "It would likely gain use in this patient population, which is a small number, but still very significant clinically. We could target this population and this would help cut down on overuse of resources and minimize our contribution to the increased level of bacterial resistance."
The new test, developed by NanoLogix, can also detect antibiotic sensitivities for women who are allergic to penicillin, saving the additional 48 hours the standard test for antibiotic sensitivity takes, Faro said.
GBS is the most common cause of sepsis (blood infection) and meningitis and a frequent cause of pneumonia in newborns, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC estimates the bacterium, which is passed from mother to child through the birth canal, is carried by 25 to 30 percent of women at any one time. Because GBS has few symptoms, many women do not know they are carriers. In 2001, 1,700 babies less than 1 week old contracted GBS, which can lead to disability and death.