BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Friday, 20 October, 2000, 01:09 GMT 02:09 UK
'Screen for baby infection'
Pregnant woman
Streptococcal infection is a leading cause of illness
The risk that babies may be infected by a dangerous bacterium while still in the womb may be higher than previously thought, say researchers.

They are calling for a programme of universal maternal screening in the UK.

Group B streptococcal infection is a leading cause of illness and death among babies in the developed world.


We believe that most women would wish to be screened for group B streptococcal carriage

Dr Elizabeth Halliday, Royal Hampshire County Hospital

In the US, infection rates dropped by two-thirds in the past decade as screening programmes were introduced.

Women who were at high risk of group B streptococcal infection or who were identified by screening as streptococcal group B carriers at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy were given antibiotics immediately before delivery.

Infection rate

Dr Elizabeth Halliday and colleagues from the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, UK, estimated the infection rate of group B streptococcal infection in Hampshire, UK, by examining data from 63,585 births between 1992 and 1997.

They also established a pilot study, based on the US model, of giving antibiotics to women with identified risk factors for group B streptococcal infection.

The investigators reported an infection rate of 1.0 per 1,000 births, higher than previously documented.

However, they calculated that less than half of infections would be prevented by giving antibiotics to women with known risk factors.

Instead, they believe the best solution would be to introduce a programme of universal maternal screening at 35-37 weeks.

This is estimated to have the potential to prevent 80% of infections.

Dr Halliday said: "If our local figures are reflected nationally we believe that most women would wish to be screened for group B streptococcal carriage in late pregnancy, and would welcome the chance to make an informed choice about intrapartum (given at birth) antibiotics".

The Public Health Laboratory Service is conducting research to establish the rate of group B streptococcal infection in new born babies across the UK.

The research is published in The Lancet medical journal.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

02 Aug 00 | Health
Jabs in the womb for babies?
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories