Incidence of invasive Group B Streptococcal infection and the risk of infant death and cerebral palsy: a Norwegian Cohort Study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of invasive neonatal infection worldwide. In high-income countries mortality rates are 4–10%, and among survivors of GBS meningitis 30–50% have neurodevelopmental impairments. We hypothesized that invasive GBS infection was associated with increased risk of infant mortality and cerebral palsy (CP). Methods All children born alive in Norway during 1996–2012 were included. Data were collected from three national registers. Invasive GBS infection during infancy was categorized into early-onset disease (EOD), late-onset disease (LOD), and very late-onset disease (VLOD). Primary outcomes were infant mortality and CP. Results Invasive GBS infection was diagnosed in 625 children (incidence: 0.62 per 1000 live births; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.57–0.67). The incidence of EOD was 0.41 (0.37–0.45), of LOD 0.20 (0.17–0.23), and of VLOD 0.012 (0.007–0.021). The annual incidence of LOD increased slightly. Among infected infants, 44 (7%) died (odds ratio (OR): 24.5; 95% CI: 18.0–33.3 compared with the background population). Among survivors, 24 (4.1%) children were later diagnosed with CP, compared with 1887 (0.19%) in the background population (OR: 22.9; 95% CI: 15.1–34.5). Conclusion Despite a relatively low incidence of invasive GBS infection in Norway, the risk of death and CP remains high. Improvements in prevention strategies are needed. Impact During the first decade of the twenty-first century, invasive GBS disease in infancy is still associated with high mortality. Despite the overall low incidence of invasive GBS disease, the incidence of LOD increased during the study period. The finding that invasive GBS infection in the neonatal period or during infancy is associated with an excess risk of CP, comparable to the risk following moderate preterm birth and moderate low Apgar scores, adds to the existing literature. The results of this study emphasize the importance of adhering to guidelines and the need for better prevention strategies.