Bacteria - "killer" kills 150.000 babies each year - WHO appeal for vaccine

You discover that this type of bacterium causes 500.000 premature births a year and many permanent child disabilities.


Urgent call to build vaccine against a bacterium that kills 150.000 babies each year World Health Organisation.

Group B streptococcus (SGB), which causes sepsis and meningitis, is a much more serious public health problem than previously thought, according to a report by this organization, part of the UN system, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

The report reveals that they are due to this type of bacteria 500.000 premature births a year and many permanent child disabilities.

The document, which confirms the extent of the phenomenon - around 100.000 newborns die and 50.000 embryos are stillborn each year - further emphasizes that there are "holes" in the data collection, which indicates that the actual number of victims may be even higher.

"This new study shows that group B streptococci are an underestimated threat to the survival and health of newborns that can have devastating consequences for many families worldwide," said Philipp Lambach, WHO vaccine specialist.

"Because of the devastating effects of this bacterium, the organization" calls - together with its partners - to urgently develop a maternal vaccine against SGB, "Lambach added.

SHTM Professor Joey Lon points out that this vaccine could save hundreds of thousands of lives and expresses its regret because no progress has been made, although the idea of ​​its development has been articulated for over three decades.

On average, 15% of pregnant women - or about 20 million annually - are carriers of this type of bacterium, which usually colonizes the vagina and rectum.

The bacterium can be transmitted to the fetus through the amniotic fluid and during childbirth, if the birth takes place naturally.

Every year, 40.000 children face neurological disorders due to group B streptococcus.

At present, women who are carriers of SGB are given antibiotics during childbirth to reduce the risk of infecting the baby.

However, in many countries this practice has not been adopted.

The highest rates of SGB cases are found in sub-Saharan Africa, where almost half of the cases are confirmed by the whole world, as well as in East and Southeast Asia, the study clarifies.

The authors estimate that the SGB vaccine, which would be administered during ordinary examinations as the pregnancy progresses and would affect about 70% of pregnant women, it would prevent the deaths of 50.000 newborns and fetuses each year.