Home ยป What Is Group B Streptococcus, One Of The Main Causes Of Premature Births

What Is Group B Streptococcus, One Of The Main Causes Of Premature Births

A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) reveals the worrisome global impact of infection with group B streptococcus, a common bacterium that causes nearly 150,000 infant deaths annually and more than half a million preterm deliveries.

“This new research shows that group B streptococcus is a major and underestimated threat to the survival and well-being of newborns and has devastating effects for many families around the world,” official Dr. Phillipp Lambach said in a statement. doctor of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals of the WHO. How is it transmitted?

What are the symptoms of infection? Group B streptococcus is a bacterium that is commonly “found in the intestines or lower genital tract,” they explain at the Mayo Clinic. This pathogen is usually harmless in healthy adults, but in newborns it can cause serious illness. Regarding their transmission, these bacteria are not transmitted sexually, and neither are they through food or water.

How the bacteria spread to people other than newborns is unknown. In these cases, it can be transmitted from the mother to the baby in the mother’s womb, during childbirth or in the first weeks of life. For the first time, this new research quantifies the important contribution of group B streptococcus to preterm birth, as well as neurological deficiencies – such as cerebral palsy and hearing and vision loss – that can occur after infections.

The disease in newborns causes warning signs such as fever, lack of energy, shortness of breath, jaundice, or feeding problems. In either case, group B strep infection can lead to life-threatening complications in babies, such as the following: Pneumonia. Meningitis. Infection in the bloodstream (bacteremia). What are the challenges?

“Maternal vaccination could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of babies in the coming years, and yet 30 years after this measure was first proposed, the world has not supplied a vaccine. Now is the time to act. to protect the world’s most vulnerable citizens with a vaccine against group B strep infection, “emphasizes Professor Joy Lawn, director of the Center for Reproductive and Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health at LSHTM. According to this report, an average of 15% of pregnant women globally carry the bacteria in the vagina and are asymptomatic.

This bacteria can be transmitted to the fetus in the womb or to the baby at delivery. “Antibiotic prophylaxis given to the woman during delivery is the primary means of preventing group B streptococcal disease in newborns, if the bacteria are detected during pregnancy.” However, even in regions with high prophylaxis coverage, “significant health risks remain, as this intervention is unlikely to prevent the majority of prenatal deaths and preterm births associated with group B streptococcal disease. which occurs later after birth, “they warn in the report.

What are the estimates? It is essential to remember that the greatest burden of this disease is in low- and middle-income countries, “where screening and intrapartum administration of antibiotics are more difficult to apply.” In this sense, the highest rates are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. Estimates suggest that if vaccination against this bacterium reached more than 70% of pregnant women, more than 50,000 related deaths annually and more than 170,000 premature births could be avoided.