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Study Shows Strep B Test Misses More Cases Than Expected

According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a federal recommendation that all pregnant women undergo testing for Group B strep bacteria has helped increase the number of screenings.  However, it has produced a high level of false negatives.

Group B strep is acquired by newborns through direct contact with the bacteria while in the uterus or during delivery.  Although it poses no harm to most adults, infants can develop blood infections, pneumonia, meningitis, mental retardation, hearing and vision loss, or death.

The researchers examined data on Group B strep cases in 10 states, finding that 250 infants out of nearly 7,700 were born with the infection.  They compared the results with a similar study that was conducted before the CDC recommendations were in place.  The researchers found that the screening rate rose from 48% to 85% of pregnant women. However, their results showed about 60% of infected infants, or 116 cases, were born to women who had tested negative for Group B strep.  The researchers noted that the timing of a Group B test might play a role because the infection can come quickly and tests could have been performed before the bacteria appeared.

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the recommendation that all pregnant women be tested because of the potential for serious complications.

If you have questions about the delivery or the birth of your child, please contact lawyers at Berger & Lagnese for a free consultation.