Maternal group B Streptococcus-related stillbirth: a systematic review

BJOG. 2015 Oct;122(11):1437-45. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13527. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Background: Limited epidemiological data on the association between maternal rectovaginal group B Streptococcus (GBS) colonisation and stillbirth makes assessment of antenatal interventions for GBS stillbirth difficult.

Objectives: To systematically review the existing literature and evaluate the incidence of GBS-related stillbirth by region up to March 2015.

Search strategy: A systematic review of the published literature was completed using PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, and Cochrane Library, with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and search terms based upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Active Bacterial Core Surveillance (ABCs) GBS-related stillbirth definition and chorioamnionitis.

Selection criteria: Studies reporting original data on GBS-related stillbirth occurring ≥20 weeks of gestation, with GBS confirmed by autopsy or by culture from the placenta, amniotic fluid, or other normally sterile site samples from the stillborn.

Data collection and analysis: Descriptive analyses were performed with the absolute GBS-related stillbirth rates and proportion of stillbirths attributed to GBS calculated per study where possible. Differences in stillbirth definitions did not allow for pooled estimates to be calculated.

Main results: Seventeen studies reported GBS-related stillbirth rates varying from 0.04 to 0.9 per 1000 births, with the proportion of stillbirths associated with GBS ranging from 0 to 12.1%. Most studies reported data from before the year 2000 and from high-income countries.

Conclusions: The sparsely available epidemiological evidence was not reported consistently, emphasising the importance of standardised stillbirth definitions and diagnostic methods to optimally assess the effectiveness of any future antenatal interventions. Timing of stillbirth, GBS serotype, and global diversity were gaps in the current evidence.

Tweetable abstract: Systematic review finds Group B Streptococcus causes up to 12.1% of stillbirths, but more research is needed.

Keywords: Group B Streptococcus; guidelines; incidence; perinatal infections; serotype distribution; stillbirth.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amniotic Fluid / microbiology
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Placenta / microbiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology*
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae*