Background: Group B meningococcal (GBM) disease induces antibodies that react in vitro with neural cell adhesion molecules in fetal brain tissue. Because IgG antibodies to GBM cross the placenta, the authors investigated whether women with a previous GBM disease had an increased risk of giving birth to preterm or to stillborn infants and whether the live-born children had an increased risk of birth defects.
Methods: Data were obtained from 4 national registries in the period 1974–2005 to form 2 cohorts: (1) 1422 women with confirmed GBM disease, and (2) their 502 firstborn children.
Results: Overall, there was no increased risk of preterm or stillbirths among the first cohort. Among the children, there was no increased risk of being born small for the gestational age, having birth defects (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.53–1.90), diseases of the nervous system (HR: 0.38; 95% CI: 0.08–1.74), or any diseases within the first 3 years of life (HR: 1.06; 95% CI: 0.78–1.45) compared to births from a reference population with prior group C meningococcal disease.
Conclusions: The results do not support the proposal that GBM is associated with immunoreactive disease that may affect the health of the offspring and are consistent with previous findings that GBM disease is not associated with an increased risk of autoimmune disease.
From the Departments of *Epidemiology and †Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark; ‡Program in Developmental and Molecular Immunity, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and §Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.
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Accepted for publication September 3, 2008.
Supported by The Fogarty International Center, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, and The Graduate Research School in International Health, University of Copenhagen.
Address for correspondence: Michael F. Howitz, MD, Artillerivej 5, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.