Research Article

Colonisation of babies and their families by group B streptococci.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 05 December 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:1503
  1. A M Weindling,
  2. J M Hawkins,
  3. M A Coombes,
  4. J Stringer


    A high incidence of group B streptococcal disease of the newborn in West Berkshire led to a prospective study of the condition. Cultures taken from 1090 babies shortly after birth showed that 65 (6%) were colonised with the streptococcus. Thirty of these babies were assigned to group 1. Bacteriological samples were taken from babies and mothers at birth and at four, eight, and 12 weeks, and also from fathers and siblings. Fifty uncolonised babies and their families were similarly studied and served as controls (group 2). In group 1,28 of the 30 mothers and 14 of the 28 fathers examined were colonised by group B streptococci. In group 2 the streptococci were isolated from three babies, 12 mothers, and 11 out of 45 fathers during follow-up. These findings suggest that group B streptococci are carried predominantly in the lower gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts. Most families are lightly colonised, but in others maternal colonisation is stable and heavy and the incidence of paternal colonisation high. Results of serotyping suggest that sexual transmission occurs, which may explain the difficulty in eradicating the organism during pregnancy.