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Group B Streptococcal Disease Drops in Newborns

Despite universal screening, black infants remain at highest risk

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of group B streptococcal (GBS) disease in newborn infants dropped by 31% between 2000-2001 and 2004 after universal screening was introduced, according to the Dec. 2 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Black infants remain at highest risk for both early-onset and late-onset GBS disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued revised guidelines in 2002 to prevent perinatal invasive GBS disease. They recommended universal screening of all pregnant women for GBS colonization at 35-37 weeks' gestation, and that carriers be given antimicrobial agents during labor to prevent infection in newborns.

From 2000-2001 to 2004, the incidence of GBS disease in infants aged 0-6 days dropped by 31%. However, the incidence of late-onset disease in infants (aged 7-89 days) remained unchanged from 1996 to 2004.

"Continued monitoring is needed to assess the impact of the 2002 guidelines on early-onset disease and the long-term effect of widespread intrapartum use of antimicrobial agents on neonatal GBS disease," the authors write.

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