Preterm Birth Associated with Group B Streptococcus Maternal Colonization Worldwide: Systematic Review and Meta-analyses

Fiorella Bianchi-Jassir*, Anna C. Seale, Maya Kohli-Lynch, Joy E. Lawn, Carol J. Baker, Linda Bartlett, Clare Cutland, Michael G. Gravett, Paul T. Heath, Margaret Ip, Kirsty Le Doare, Shabir A. Madhi, Samir K. Saha, Stephanie Schrag, Ajoke Sobanjo-Ter Meulen, Johan Vekemans, Craig E. Rubens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of deaths among children <5 years of age. Studies have suggested that group B Streptococcus (GBS) maternal rectovaginal colonization during pregnancy may be a risk factor for preterm delivery. This article is the fifth of 11 in a series. We aimed to assess the association between GBS maternal colonization and preterm birth in order to inform estimates of the burden of GBS. Methods. We conducted systematic literature reviews (PubMed/Medline, Embase, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature [LILACS], World Health Organization Library Information System [WHOLIS], and Scopus) and sought unpublished data from investigator groups on the association of preterm birth (<37 weeks' gestation) and maternal GBS colonization (GBS isolation from vaginal, cervical, and/or rectal swabs; with separate subanalysis on GBS bacteriuria). We did meta-analyses to derive pooled estimates of the risk and odds ratios (according to study design), with sensitivity analyses to investigate potential biases. Results. We identified 45 studies for inclusion. We estimated the risk ratio (RR) for preterm birth with maternal GBS colonization to be 1.21 (95% confidence interval [CI],.99-1.48; P =.061) in cohort and cross-sectional studies, and the odds ratio to be 1.85 (95% CI, 1.24-2.77; P =.003) in case-control studies. Preterm birth was associated with GBS bacteriuria in cohort studies (RR, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.45-2.69]; P <.001). Conclusions. From this review, there is evidence to suggest that preterm birth is associated with maternal GBS colonization, especially where there is evidence of ascending infection (bacteriuria). Several biases reduce the chance of detecting an effect. Equally, however, results, including evidence for the association, may be due to confounding, which is rarely addressed in studies. Assessment of any effect on preterm delivery should be included in future maternal GBS vaccine trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S133-S142
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Potential conflicts of interest. Many contributors to this supplement have received funding for their research from foundations, especially the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and several from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council UK, the Thrasher Foundation, the Meningitis Research Foundation, and one individual from the US National Institutes of Health. Members of the Expert Advisory Group received reimbursement for travel expenses to attend working meetings related to this series. A. S.-t. M. works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. C. J. B. has served as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Seqirus Inc and of the CureVac Inc Scientific Advisory Committee, as well as undertaken consultancy work for Pfizer Inc. C. C. has received institutional compensation from Novartis for conducting GBS studies. P. T. H. has been a consultant to Novartis and Pfizer on GBS vaccines but received no funding for these activities. M. I. has undertaken sponsored research from Pfizer on pneumococcal disease in adults and from Belpharma Eumedica (Belgium) on temocillin antimicrobial susceptibility in Enterobacteriaceae. K. L. D. has received funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on research on GBS serocorrelates of protection to inform vaccine trials, and travel expenses from Pfizer to attend a meeting on an investigator-led project on GBS. S. A. M. has collaborated on GBS grants funded by GlaxoSmithKline and by Pfizer and received personal fees for being member of its advisory committee; he has also collaborated on a GBS grant funded by Minervax. All other authors report no potential conflicts of interest. All authors have submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. Conflicts that the editors consider relevant to the content of the manuscript have been disclosed.

Funding Information:
Financial support. This supplement was supported by a grant to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Grant ID: OPP1131158).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author.


  • bacteriuria
  • colonization
  • group B Streptococcus
  • preterm delivery
  • preterm labor


Dive into the research topics of 'Preterm Birth Associated with Group B Streptococcus Maternal Colonization Worldwide: Systematic Review and Meta-analyses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this