-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Giving antibiotics to
pregnant women at risk of streptococcus B infection greatly reduces
infection rates in newborns, according to a new study.
Use of antibiotics to prevent group B strep is common in
high-income nations and should also be used in developing
countries, at least until a vaccine becomes available, said study
author Dr. Karen Edmond, of the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine in England, and colleagues.
The researchers analyzed dozens of previous studies and found
that the mean global incidence of group B strep infection in
infants up to 3 months old was 0.53 per 1,000 live births and the
mean death rate was 10 percent.
Africa had the highest incidence (1.21 cases per 1,000 live
births) and death rate (22 percent). Incidence in the Americas
[0.67 per 1,000 live births] and Europe [0.57 per 1,000 live
births] was also higher than the global average. The death rate was
11 percent in the Americas and 7 percent in Europe.
Worldwide, the death rate for early-onset group B strep
infection -- occurring the first week of life -- was 12 percent,
twice that of later-onset disease.
Sixty-nine percent of the studies reported use of any preventive
antibiotic treatment in the time between labor and delivery
(intrapartum). Rates of early-onset disease were three times lower
in studies that reported preventive use of antibiotics than those
that did not report such use.
The study appears in the Jan. 5 issue of
The most common strep B serotype in all regions was serotype III
(49 percent), followed by serotypes Ia (23 percent), Ib (7
percent), II (6 percent), and V (9 percent).
The distribution of strains of strep B appears similar
worldwide, which means that vaccines currently in development could
have near-universal applicability, according to the
"A conjugate vaccine incorporating five serotypes (Ia, Ib, II, III, V) could prevent most global group B streptococcal disease," they wrote in a journal news release. Phase 3 trials of vaccines will soon begin in Africa, they said.
"Vaccination of pregnant women also has the potential to reduce premature births, stillbirths, and puerperal sepsis [a toxic condition] caused by group B streptococcus," the researchers said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
group B strep infections in newborns.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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