January 10, 2013
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Mothers a common source of infection in late-onset GBS

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Premature infants had a high rate of group B streptococcus infections, and many likely acquired this illness from their mothers, according to results of a recent study.

Alberto Berardi, MD, of the Azienda Osspedaliero-Universitaria Proclinico in Italy, and colleagues evaluated group B streptococcus (GBS) late-onset disease in about 100 infants between 2003 and 2010. The researchers also collected cultures from the mothers’ breast milk and rectovaginal cultures to determine whether infected breast milk may have contributed to the babies’ GBS disease.

The rate of GBS late-onset disease in full-term neonates was 0.32 per 1,000 live births. The most common presentation of the late-onset disease was meningitis, sepsis or focal infection. Sixty-four percent of 47 mothers were positive for GBS at the rectovaginal site, and 6% of 53 mothers had GBS mastitis, according to the study researchers. In some cases, the milk was infected even when the mother did not have mastitis.

“Intrapartum antibiotic exposure was significantly associated with mild (12 of 22) rather than severe (11 of 45; P=.03) [late-onset disease],” they wrote.

Alberto Berardi, MD, can be reached at berardi.alberto@policlinico.mo.it.

Disclosure: Berardi reports no relevant financial disclosures.