Background: There is insufficient population-based data on group B streptococcus (GBS) late-onset disease (LOD). Risk factors and routes of GBS transmission are poorly understood.
Methods: A prospective, cohort study was conducted to collect incidence data on LOD and evaluate GBS infections over an 8-year period (2003-2010). Starting from January 2007, maternal rectovaginal and breast milk cultures were routinely collected on confirmation of the LOD diagnosis to assess maternal GBS culture status.
Results: The incidence rate of LOD was 0.32 per 1000 live births (1.4 and 0.24 per 1000 live births for preterm and term newborns, respectively). The registered cases of LOD (n = 100) were classified as sepsis (n = 57), meningitis (n = 36), or focal infection (n = 7). Thirty neonates were preterm (2 had recurrent infection); 68 were term. Four infants died (3 early preterm, 1 term). At the time the LOD diagnosis was confirmed, 3 (6%) of 53 mothers had GBS mastitis, and 30 (64%) of 47 carried GBS at the rectovaginal site. Early (7-30 days) LOD presentation was associated with neonatal brain lesions or death (odds ratio: 0.96 [95% confidence interval: 0.93-0.99]). Intrapartum antibiotic exposure was significantly associated with mild (12 of 22) rather than severe (11 of 45; P = .03) LOD.
Conclusions: Preterm neonates had the highest rates of LOD and mortality. Most mothers carried GBS at the time of the LOD diagnosis, whereas 6% had mastitis. Intrapartum antibiotics were associated both with delayed presentation of symptoms and milder LOD.