Poor Adherence to the Screening-Based Strategy of Group B Streptococcus Despite Colonization of Pregnant Women in Greece

Pathogens. 2021 Apr 1;10(4):418. doi: 10.3390/pathogens10040418.


Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a leading cause of serious neonatal infections. Maternal GBS colonization is associated with early- and late-onset neonatal disease (EOD/LOD). In Greece, a screening-based strategy is recommended, in which concurrent vaginal-rectal cultures should be obtained between 36 0/7 and 37 6/7 weeks' gestation. We sought to examine the level of adherence to the GBS screening guidelines and estimate the prevalence of GBS colonization among pregnant women. Although in Greece the screening-based strategy is followed, we also examined known EOD risk factors and linked them to GBS colonization. A cross-sectional study of 604 women postpartum in three hospitals and maternity clinics was conducted. Following written informed consent, data were collected via a short self-completed questionnaire and review of patients' records. In 34.6% of the enrolled pregnant women, no culture had been taken. Of the remaining, 12.8% had proper vaginal-rectal sample collections. The overall maternal colonization rate was 9.6%. At least one risk factor for EOD was identified in 12.6% of participants. The presence of risk factors was associated with positive cultures (p = 0.014). The rate of culture collection did not differ between women with or without an EOD risk factor. Adherence to a universal screening of pregnant women with vaginal-rectal cultures was poor. Despite probable underestimation of GBS carrier status, almost 1 in 10 participants were GBS positive during pregnancy. Screening of women with risk factors for EOD should, at least, be prioritized to achieve prevention and prompt intervention of EOD.

Keywords: GBS; adherence; culture; maternal carrier status; pregnancy; risk factors.