Group B Streptococcus and the risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality following term labor.
Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus) colonizes the genital tract of approximately 20% of pregnant women. In the absence of intervention, approximately 1% of infants born to colonized mothers exhibit a clinical infection. This has led to implementation of screening and intervention in the form of intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis in many countries, including the United States. However, screening has not been introduced in a substantial minority of other countries because of the absence of supportive level 1 evidence, the very large number needed to treat to prevent 1 case, and concerns about antimicrobial resistance. Optimal screening would involve rapid turnaround (to facilitate intrapartum testing) and report antibiotic sensitivity, but no such method exists. There is significant scope for a personalized medicine approach, targeting intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis to cases at greatest risk, but the pathogen and host factors determining the risk of invasive disease are incompletely understood. Epidemiologic data have indicated the potential of prelabor invasion of the uterus by group B Streptococcus, and metagenomic analysis revealed the presence of group B Streptococcus in the placenta in approximately 5% of pregnant women at term before onset of labor and membrane rupture. However, the determinants and consequences of prelabor invasion of the uterus by group B Streptococcus remain to be established. The vast majority (98%) of invasive neonatal disease is caused by 6 serotypes, and hexavalent vaccines against these serotypes have completed phase 2 trials. However, an obstacle to phase 3 studies is conducting an adequately powered trial to demonstrate clinical effectiveness given that early-onset disease affects approximately 1 in 1000 births in the absence of vaccination.