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Vaccine. 2014 May 30;32(26):3128-32. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.020. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Breast milk and Group B streptococcal infection: vector of transmission or vehicle for protection?

Author information

1
Imperial College London, Department of Paediatrics, St. Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, London, W2 1NY, UK; Wellcome Trust Centre for Global Health Research, Norfolk Place, London, UK; MRC Unit, Vaccinology Theme, Atlantic Road, Fajara, The Gambia. Electronic address: kirstyledoare@gmail.com.
2
Imperial College London, Department of Paediatrics, St. Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, London, W2 1NY, UK; MRC Unit, Vaccinology Theme, Atlantic Road, Fajara, The Gambia. Electronic address: b.kampmann@imperial.ac.uk.

Abstract

Invasive Group-B streptococcal (GBS) disease is a leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity worldwide. GBS colonises the maternal rectum and vagina and transmission of bacteria from a colonized mother to her infant at birth is an important risk factor for GBS disease. GBS disease has also been associated with case reports of transmission via infected breast milk raising questions about mode of acquisition and transmission of this enteric pathogen and the development of neonatal disease. However, most breastfed infants remain unaffected by GBS in breast milk. Mechanisms associated with transmission of GBS in breast milk and potential factors that may protect the infant from transmission remain poorly understood. Understanding factors involved in protection or transmission of GBS infection via breast milk is important both for premature infants who are a high-risk group and for infants in the developing world where breastfeeding is the only sustainable infant feeding option. In this review we discuss the proposed mechanisms for GBS colonization in breast milk on one hand and its immune factors that may protect from transmission of GBS from mother to infant on the other. Innate and adaptive immune factors, including serotype-specific antibody and their significance in the prevention of infant disease are presented. We further report on the role of human oligosaccharides in protection from invasive GBS disease. Advances in our knowledge about breast milk and immunity in GBS disease are needed to fully appreciate what might mitigate transmission from mother to infant and protect neonates from this devastating disease and to contribute to the development of novel prevention strategies, including maternal immunization to prevent infant disease.

KEYWORDS:

Antibody; Breast milk; Group-B streptococcus; Immunity; Vaccination

PMID:
24736004
PMCID:
PMC4037808
DOI:
10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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