Aims: Group B streptococcal (GBS) disease is the leading cause of early-onset neonatal sepsis in New Zealand. Disease follows vertical transmission of GBS from the mother, which can largely be prevented by intravenous intrapartum antibiotics. A 2004 New Zealand guideline recommended using clinical risk factors to identify mothers who would qualify for intrapartum antibiotics. An expert multidisciplinary group met to reconsider these guidelines in the light of a two year survey of the incidence of early onset GBS neonatal sepsis.
Methods: Representatives from the New Zealand College of Midwives, the Fetus and Newborn Committee of the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, the New Zealand Committee of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the New Zealand sub-Committee of the Australasian Society of Infectious Diseases, and the Canterbury Home Birth Association met to review the literature and the most recent New Zealand data.
Results: The multidisciplinary group noted that the estimated incidence of early-onset GBS sepsis had halved over a 10-year period to be 0.26 per 1,000 live births in 2009-11 and that there were missed opportunities for preventing GBS infection. Consensus was reached that adoption of a national guideline on prevention and management of early onset GBS neonatal sepsis by all practitioners and District Health Boards would have the greatest potential to further reduce the incidence.
Conclusion: A risk-based GBS prevention strategy continues to be recommended as being the most clinically and cost effective for the New Zealand context. Universal routine antenatal GBS screening is not recommended.