Group B streptococcus (GBS) is the most common life-threatening bacterial infection in newborns worldwide. GBS typically resides in the lower genital tract but does not cause infections in healthy women. But if the infection is transmitted to an infant during pregnancy, it can lead to preterm birth or stillbirth. If the infection is transmitted to a newborn, it can cause pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis, all of which can occur within the first week of life or within 90 days of birth. The goal of my research is to prevent maternal to infant transmission of GBS.
But not all babies become infected. In the U.S. and other developed countries, pregnant women are screened for GBS around the 37th week of gestation. If found positive, a pregnant woman is given antibiotics during labor to prevent the newborn from being infected, and that has reduced transmission of GBS from mothers to infants during birth. However, infections that occur earlier than 37 weeks or after 1 week of birth are not prevented by these measures. Read full post »