BPSU study - Group B streptococcal disease (GBS)

Surveillance of Group B streptococcal (GBS) disease in British and Irish infants less than 90 days of age concluded in April 2015. Knowledge of the current epidemiology in this age group is needed to assess the impact of current guidelines and provide baseline information for a GBS vaccine programme.

A paper has now been published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. A link to the abstract can be found below.

Lead Investigator

Professor Paul Heath

Project coordinator

Dr Catherine O'Sullivan

Contact details

Paediatric Infectious Diseases Research Group
St George's University of London
Cranmer Terrace
London SW17 0RE
Email: gbs@sgul.ac.uk

About the study


Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the most common cause of serious bacterial infections (eg septicaemia, pneumonia) in the first week of life and of meningitis in the first three months of life. Approximately 10% of babies with GBS disease will die and neurodisability occurs in up to 50% of survivors of GBS meningitis. Our previous British Paediatric Surveillance Unit study (2000-2001) remains the only national UK and Ireland enhanced surveillance study.

Early onset GBS disease may be prevented by antibiotics given intravenously to the mother during labour. National guidelines introduced in 2003 and updated in 2012 currently recommend this for women with certain risk factors. Late onset disease however is not currently preventable. A vaccine against GBS has been developed and is currently being tested in pregnant women. We therefore need to collect the best available evidence in order to assess the impact of current prevention guidelines as well as providing the baseline for a GBS vaccine program.

The study is being led by St George's, University of London and Public Health England. The information will be collected and collated on a PHE web based surveillance system.

You can download the protocol card, including references, below.


Published papers

Case definition

Any case of invasive group B streptococcus (GBS grown from a sterile site) in an infant of less than 90 days of age.


April 2014 - April 2015 (13 months of surveillance).


The study is funded by a grant from Meningitis Now.


This study has been approved by NRES Committee - South East Coast - Brighton and Sussex REC (REC reference: 13/LO/1912; IRAS Project ID: 137959). Public Health England has approval under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006 to process confidential patient information for public health purposes. See The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002.

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