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Group B streptococcal disease: Black and Asian newborns at higher risk

Group B Streptococcus is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborns, and in the UK on average two babies a day develop the infection. Now, the charity Group B Strep Support has called for greater awareness of the disease and for hospitals to enroll in the ongoing GBS3 trial.

A new study led by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has found that rates of group B streptococcal (GBS) disease are significantly higher in infants of Black or Asian ethnicity, compared to infants of White ethnicity.1

            Group B streptococcal disease is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing a range of serious infections including pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis.2 In the UK, on average, two babies a day develop the infection, with one a week dying and one a week being left with life-changing disability.1

            A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, used national laboratory data and NHS hospital records for England for the period 2016–2020. It found that: among infants of Black ethnicity, the overall rate of invasive GBS disease was 51% higher than for White infants; and, among infants of Asian ethnicity, the overall rate of GBS disease was 28% higher than for White infants.

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