The problems with GBS screening

2105136196_9e5f045d1c“In my view there are two main issues that hamper the assessment of harms and benefits of antenatal GBS screening. The first is the artefact introduced by using GBS culture-positivity when assessing the outcome of the use of IAP [intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis]. The presence of antibiotic in the baby’s circulation will inhibit the growth of the organism, despite the clinical picture of sepsis. This artefact means we remain uncertain how effective IAP really is. The second is the huge number of women who require IAP for the small number of symptomatic neonatal infections that are likely to be prevented, with the resulting concerns about the impact that antibiotics given at the time of labour may have on the longer-term outcomes for a large number of babies. This uncertainly about impact was highlighted by the follow-up of the ORACLE trial (Kenyon et al. Lancet 2008;376:1319–27), but extends well  beyond that, with concerns that selection pressure applied to the developing microbiota may have profound long-term health consequences (Bedford Russell & Murch BJOG 2006;113:758–65; Quigley Gastroenterol Hepatol 2013;9:560–69).

Added to which, there is growing international pressure to limit the use of antibiotics in the face of increasing resistance and a lack of new antibiotic development ( Being able to identify women and babies who would most benefit from antibiotics would be an important step in balancing the benefits versus harms of such a programme.”

Brocklehurst P, Steer PJ (2015).  BJOG Debate: Screening for Group B streptococcus should be routine in pregnancy. AGAINST: Current evidence does not support the introduction of microbiological screening for identifying carriers of Group B streptococcus. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 122(3): 368-69.
photo credit: PC118925 via photopin (license)

1 comment for “The problems with GBS screening

  1. Lucy
    February 23, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    These risks are so infrequently considered, many people are frequently frightened into agreeing.
    I tested +ive at 12 wks ( having been given a test without my consent) I was told I couldn’t have a homebirth as I would have to have a drip, I was also threatened with not being attended at home and that my baby could be taken away social services if I refused.

    When I took advice from a private midwife and from AIMS I was able to write to the head of midwifery, highlighting green top guidleines and protocol.
    I eventually got co operation, with my aknowledgement that if I prsented with any GBS symptoms (high temp/ early membranes etc) I would comply with a hospital transfer and IAP. my baby was born well, and no antibiotics were needed.

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