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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2011 Sep;17(9):1294-303. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2011.03576.x. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Neonatal group B streptococcal disease: from pathogenesis to preventive strategies.

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1
National Reference Centre for Group B Streptococci, Medical Microbiology Department, University Hospital of Liege, Liege, Belgium. Pierrette.Melin@chu.ulg.ac.be

Abstract

Streptococcus agalactiae, or group B streptococcus (GBS), remains the leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis, as early-onset or late-onset diseases (EOD, LOD). Where consensus guidelines to detect and treat intrapartum women with GBS colonization have been widely adopted, incidence of neonatal EOD has dramatically declined. In response to both successful impacts on the incidence of GBS-EOD and analyses of missed opportunities, the first American guidelines for prevention issued in the 1990s have since been adapted in several stages to improve their efficacy. In some countries in Europe, nationwide guidelines, whether screening-based or risk-based, for the prevention of neonatal GBS diseases have also been issued and adopted, with the expected impact on incidence of GBS-EOD. In spite of universal screening, in spite of the great progress that has been made, GBS-EOD continues to occur and the GBS burden remains a significant public health issue. Continuous efforts to improve screening for GBS status continue to be important and may be able to take advantage of new rapid diagnostic technologies. The current screening-based strategy for prevention is highly effective but imperfect. Given the challenges, limitations and potential complications of maternal intrapartum prophylaxis, a new approach is still needed. Maternal immunization against GBS is an attractive alternative for the prevention of not only neonatal diseases but also stillbirths and maternal diseases. Vaccines against GBS may become the most effective and sustainable long-term preventive strategy.

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