Group B Strep (GBS) is not an infection. It is one of the normal inhabitant bacterias of vaginal and anal areas. It is detected in 25% of all pregnancies.
Testing positive for GBS in late pregnancy simply means the GBS bacteria are present at the time of testing. It does not mean you, your placenta or your baby has an infection. Throughout a normal pregnancy, the GBS bacteria can come and go at any time without symptoms.
With no preventative measures in labour (typically IV antibiotics) the newborn has a 5% (1 in 200) chance of becoming infected with the GBS disease when GBS is detected in late pregnancy. When a positive GBS test is treated with preventative antibiotics in labour the incidence of GBS infection decreases to 0.025% (1 in 4000).
Some women choose to have this active treatment in labour, some don’t; often to avoid the side effects of the antibiotics on mother and baby’s healthy bacterial flora.
Regardless of the management plan, the placenta can still be encapsulated as the high heat of steaming and/or dehydrating kills any remnant bacteria.
However, if there are signs or symptoms of a GBS newborn/maternal infection during the labour and/or within the first 48 hours of the birth, it is NOT possible to proceed with placenta encapsulation. Testing positive for GBS and developing a GBS infection are two different scenarios.
On the 30th June 2017, the Centres for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) in America published a report associating the consumption of placenta capsules by a mother with the late onset of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection in her infant (1).
Since then there has been numerous news reports, articles, discussions within the birth and parenting worlds on social media and speculation by many. But what do we actually know about this case and about the process of placenta encapsulation? Please read this article by Placenta Services Australia, and this article by Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA).