Group B Streptococcus colonization in pregnancy: prevalence and prevention strategies of neonatal sepsis

J Perinat Med. 2009;37(2):124-9. doi: 10.1515/JPM.2009.020.


Early onset neonatal sepsis due to Group B streptococci (GBS) is responsible for severe morbidity and mortality of newborns. While different preventive strategies to identify women at risk are being recommended, the optimal strategy depends on the incidence of GBS-sepsis and on the prevalence of anogenital GBS colonization. We therefore aimed to assess the Group B streptococci prevalence and its consequences on different prevention strategies. We analyzed 1316 pregnant women between March 2005 and September 2006 at our institution. The prevalence of GBS colonization was determined by selective cultures of anogenital smears. The presence of risk factors was analyzed. In addition, the direct costs of screening and intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis were estimated for different preventive strategies. The prevalence of GBS colonization was 21%. Any maternal intrapartum risk factor was present in 37%. The direct costs of different prevention strategies have been estimated as follows: risk-based: 18,500 CHF/1000 live births, screening-based: 50,110 CHF/1000 live births, combined screening- and risk-based: 43,495/1000 live births. Strategies to prevent GBS-sepsis in newborn are necessary. With our colonization prevalence of 21%, and the intrapartum risk profile of women, the screening-based approach seems to be superior as compared to a risk-based approach.

MeSH terms

  • Anal Canal / microbiology
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis* / economics
  • Carrier State
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / microbiology*
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / prevention & control
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / growth & development
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / isolation & purification*
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vaginal Smears