A study has revealed that a streptococcus vaccine has the potential to prevent approximately 100,000 newborn deaths.
One in five women carry the bacteria in their vaginal tract, but it is usually harmless. However, if a woman is pregnant, she could pass the bacteria on to her baby, which can cause an infection.
It is understood that 150,000 women carry Group B Streptococcus each year. Babies are not usually infected, but the study found that one in every 2,000 were affected by streptococcus.
They stated that a vaccine could make huge improvements, especially in developing countries.
They believe Group B Streptococcus plays a serious role in causing complications during delivery.
They suggested, “An effective GBS vaccine could reduce disease in the mother, the fetus, and the infant."
The infection has the potential to spread throughout a baby’s body due to their weak immune system. In cases where babies are infected, they may develop a severe infection which can lead to meningitis.
By the time of delivery, 15 percent of babies born were exposed to the infection. That’s 21 million out of 140 million births worldwide.
They found that 90,000 infants who were exposed to Group B Streptococcus died. The clear majority of these cases occurred in countries that had a weak healthcare system.
The number of deaths was a lot lower in developed countries, where mums and babies have better access to healthcare.
Asia and Africa had the most reported cases of newborn deaths caused by exposure to streptococcus. The study shared that 60 percent of the 90,000 deaths occurred in Africa, with 34 percent.
People who live in these countries face more struggles when it comes to accessing healthcare.
Less than one percent of the newborn deaths happened in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The team of researchers found that prescribing antibiotics during labour stopped the infection from spreading. They estimated that the antibiotics prevented 3,000 newborn deaths in 2015.
They also shared that the medication had stopped 29,000 cases of early-onset infant infection.
The experts have encouraged women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of streptococcus.
The signs and symptoms include:
- A pain in the throat
- A fever
- Struggling to swallow
- Swollen tonsils, that are red with white patches
- Red spots at the back of the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
Johan Vekemans told The Guardian, “It is now essential to accelerate the GBS vaccine development activities.”