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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999 Sep;18(9):806-10.

Neonatal group B streptococcal disease in Finland: a ten-year nationwide study.

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National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.



Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the most common cause of invasive infections in newborns. GBS bacteria are typed on the basis of capsular polysaccharides or surface-localized proteins. Both polysaccharides and protein antigens have been suggested as potential vaccine candidates.


A prospective nationwide laboratory-based study of invasive GBS infections in children younger than 3 months of age was conducted in 1985 through 1994. Isolates were serotyped by immunodiffusion in agar gel with HCl extracts and rabbit antisera. Clinical diagnoses and case fatalities were verified from the patient records or the national hospital discharge register.


There were 485 cases registered during the 10-year period. The incidence of disease was 0.76/1000 live births. The case fatality rate was 8.0%. Of the 485 cases 398 (83%) were early onset and 87 (17%) late onset infections. The most common clinical diagnosis was bacteremia (77%) without an identified focus of infection. Other diagnoses included meningitis (17%), pneumonia (3%), osteomyelitis or septic arthritis (2%), pyelonephritis or cellulitis. Serotyping of 395 isolates revealed that 47% were of serotype III or III/R, 23% of Ia/c, 11% of Ib, 6% of II/R, 8% of IV, 1% of V and 7% were nontypable.


The clinical picture of GBS disease and serotype distribution are similar to what has been reported from other countries. Serotypes III and III/R dominated (47% of all infections), especially in late onset disease. On the basis of these results a GBS vaccine including at least the Ia, Ib, II and III components would provide coverage against 88% of GBS serotypes causing neonatal disease in Finland.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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