Group B Strep International
Group B Strep International (GBSI) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote international awareness and prevention of Group B Strep (GBS) disease in babies during pregnancy through early infancy.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a naturally occurring bacteria that is found in the gastrointestinal and lower reproductive tracts of both men and women. About 1 in 4 pregnant women carry GBS. Unfortunately, due to their underdeveloped immune systems, babies can become sick from GBS, either before birth or up to several months of age. GBS can cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn, or become very sick and sometimes die after birth. Survivors may have lifelong health challenges such as blindness, deafness, mental challenges, and/or cerebral palsy. Worldwide, GBS is a major, yet preventable, cause of maternal and infant health issues according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, GBS is the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns.
GBSI was formed in 2006 by Marti Perhach and John MacDonald, who each lost a daughter to GBS. Prior to that, Marti and John were president and vice-president, respectively, of GBSI’s sister organization, The Jesse Cause - Saving Babies from Group B Strep. They, along with other advocates, campaigned tirelessly and successfully for universal screening for GBS, which was adopted within the US in 2002.
While perinatal health groups mostly focus on early-onset GBS disease, GBSI strives to shine light on late-onset GBS, as well as prenatal-onset GBS, which is not commonly recognized. To bring attention to all three types of GBS disease, GBSI works on sharing the signs of GBS infection, which when recognized in a timely manner, can make all the difference for the life of a baby.
GBSI also recognizes that GBS parent advocates play a vital role in raising awareness and highlighting gaps in care. From fundraising, to sharing their stories, to talking to their health care providers, they are the grassroots that put a face on the illness and help support our cause. We network with GBS researchers worldwide to help spread current GBS knowledge and developments. GBSI is working to bring providers and parents together to move forward as a community united in promoting awareness.
The goal of GBSI is to be a central resource for GBS information for both the general public and medical professionals. The scope of our mission includes actively supporting the GBS awareness and prevention efforts of individuals and organizations on a community or national level.
GBSI works towards this goal by maintaining an active website and social media presence, distributing informational materials for patients and medical professionals, exhibiting and presenting at perinatal conferences worldwide, and creating a supportive community for friends and families of anyone affected by GBS. Currently, GBSI is set to host the 1st Annual Virtual Symposium on Prenatal-Onset Group B Strep Disease on October 15-25, 2018. Please contact us for more information.
At Group B Strep International we hope that, one day, all medical professionals and parents will know how to help prevent perinatal group B strep disease at all stages of life, resulting in less suffering and healthier babies.