How to reduce preventable GBS deaths
A GBS expert reveals moms’ most common questions about the disease and the steps necessary to reduce the suffering caused by preventable GBS deaths
James A. McGregor, MDCM, is a recently retired Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. He is on the Board of Group B Strep International and assists in “building a community of practice” by answering parents’, families’, and providers’ questions submitted to the website from all over the world.
July is International Group B Strep Awareness Month!
Frequently Asked Questions Include:
1) How common is GBS infection or sepsis in newborns?
2) What babies are at greatest risk?
3) The regular test (vagina/rectal culture) takes three days for results. Can we do better? Can rapid GBS tests help to reduce the possible side effects of antibiotic use in babies (e.g., asthma, atopic disease, altered mother/baby “microbiome”)? Can a rapid test be used in labor or after birth to direct antibiotic treatment?
4) When will we have a “perinatal vaccine” that can protect against GBS, like we already do for influenza, tetanus, whooping cough, and hepatitis B virus?
While all of these questions have detailed answers, they demonstrate the same thing—a desire for more information about GBS, and a better way of preventing death from GBS disease.
It seems to me we need more Center for Disease Control-directed research, development of an easy-to-perform rapid test, a safe and effective vaccine for mothers, and available pathology services (including verbal autopsy). These would be effective steps to reducing children’s and families’ suffering from preventable GBS disease.