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Group B Strep Screening Guidelines Sparing Newborns
Date:6/17/2009

More expectant moms being checked, treated so babies aren't infected, study finds

WEDNESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- Recommendations implemented in 2002 to screen all pregnant women for group B streptococcal disease have largely been successful, a new report shows.

Eighty-five percent of women in the United States are now being screened and, if positive, given appropriate treatment.

"This paper highlights an important public health success story," said study author Melissa K. Van Dyke, who was an epidemic intelligence service officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while conducting the study. "Recommendations for universal antenatal screening were rapidly adopted, and this corresponded with further declines in the incidence of early-onset GBS [group B strep] disease."

Van Dyke is now an epidemiologist at GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals in Rixensart, Belgium, although that company played no part in this study, which appears in the June 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"These guidelines have been in place for many years now, and this study was asking whether these guidelines had actually had an impact on care, whether people's behavior had changed," added Dr. James M. Greenberg, director of neonatology at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "And the answer is yes. Women are getting screened now in much higher percentages, they're getting treated and that has led to a reduction in disease in newborns."

GBS is bacteria that, according to the CDC, became the leading infectious cause of illness and death in newborns in the 1970s. GBS can cause sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia in infants, usually within the first week of life. If a pregnant woman is a carrier, the infection can be passed to her child during delivery.

The guidelines recommend that women get screened at 35 weeks to 37 weeks of pregnancy.

"If a mother is p
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