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Pregnant women with deadly Strep bacteria : India on top

25 November 2017

India tops the rank in number of pregnant woman who carry Group B Streptococcus bacterium which causes nearly 150,000 stillbirths and infant deaths globally every year. 

The top five countries by numbers of pregnant women colonised with Group B Streptococcus (GBS) worldwide in 2015 were: India (2,466,500), China (1,934,900), Nigeria (1,060,000), the US (942,800) and Indonesia (799,100), researchers said.

The study was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK. They found that an estimated one in five pregnant women around the world carry GBS bacteria which is a major, yet preventable, cause of maternal and infant ill health globally.

According to study about 21.7 million pregnant women carry the Group B Strep bacteria and most of them are currently unidentified and untreated.

Group work of more than 100 scientists from around the world, the series of 11 research papers conservatively estimates that out of 410,000 GBS cases every year, there will be at least 147,000 stillbirths and infant deaths globally.

Despite being home to only 13 per cent of the world’s population, Africa had the highest burden, with 54 per cent of estimated cases and 65 per cent of stillbirths and infant deaths.

The new research found GBS is present among pregnant women in all regions of the world, with an average of 18 per cent of pregnant women worldwide carrying the bacteria, ranging from 11 per cent in eastern Asia to 35 per cent in the Caribbean, totalling 21.7 million in 195 countries.

“Too many parents around the world face the death of a baby or a young child – avoidable GBS deaths are happening in every country,” said Joy Lawn, Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine(Source:DC).

Although several vaccines to prevent GBS are in development, none is currently available, researchers said(Source:DC).

The disease is accounting for more than the combined neonatal deaths from tetanus, pertussis, and respiratory syncytial virus, for which maternal vaccines are already in use, or further advanced in development, they said.

The analysis shows for the first time that a maternal GBS vaccine, which was 80 per cent effective and reached 90 per cent of women, could potentially prevent 231,000 infant and maternal GBS cases.

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