We sent a questionnaire to all members of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases and to all delegates of the European Association of Perinatal Medicine to determine existing policies for prevention of neonatal group B streptococcal (GBS) infection in Europe. The incidence of GBS colonization in pregnant women and of neonatal GBS infection varies. Policies for prevention of GBS infection are not well-developed.
In the industrialized world group B streptococci (GBS) are the leading cause of severe bacterial infections during the first 3 months of life. In 1996 the CDC recommended two strategies for prevention of perinatal group B streptococcal disease, the screening-based strategy and the risk-based strategy. 1 After implementation of the guidelines in the US, the incidence of early onset GBS disease dropped significantly from 1.7 per 1000 live births in 1993 to 0.6 per 1000 live births in 1998. 2 In 2002 the CDC recommended the screening-based strategy as the only strategy for prevention of perinatal GBS disease. 3 This recommendation was based on a comparative study in which the screening-based strategy was >50% more effective than the risk factor-based strategy 4.
From Europe only limited data about maternal GBS colonization and incidence of neonatal GBS disease are available. The goal of our study was to gain insight into the epidemiology of neonatal GBS disease and existing policies for prevention in Europe.