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Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2004 Jun;2(3):427-37.

Significance, management and prevention of Streptococcus agalactiae infection during the perinatal period.

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Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University Hospital Freiburg, Mathildenstrasse 1, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany.


The highest annual death rate during the first five decades of life occurs in the first year, particularly during the perinatal period between the onset of labor and 72 h after birth. Invasive bacterial disease evoking the severe inflammatory response syndrome is a leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Group B streptococcus (Streptococcus agalactiae) is the most important pathogen in this period of life, although the concept of intrapartum antimicrobial prophylaxis has impressively reduced the rate of culture-proven invasive infection in neonates. This strategy, however, has considerable limitations since group B streptococcus-related stillbirths or prematurity and late-onset sepsis cannot be prevented. Moreover, the use of intrapartum antimicrobial prophylaxis has significantly increased the use of antibiotics during labor and therefore may select for intrapartum infections caused by other bacteria, including those resistant to antibiotics. Several advances in the development of vaccines and research on virulence factors and pathways involved in the immune response to group B streptococcus have been accomplished within the last years, including complete sequencing of the group B streptococcus genome. Development of effective vaccines and implementation of vaccination strategies will be one of the key challenges in the future for prevention of neonatal group B Streptococcus infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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