Group B Strep Still Main Cause of Neonatal Meningitis

Escherichia coli is most common cause of bacterial meningitis in preterm infants

MONDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Group B streptococci (GBS) is still the dominant cause of neonatal bacterial meningitis, whereas Escherichia coli (E. coli) is the most common cause among preterm infants, according to a study published in the March issue of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Jean Gaschignard, M.D., of Hôpital Antoine-Béclère in Clamart, France, and colleagues investigated the clinical and bacteriologic features of 439 cases of neonatal meningitis from 114 French pediatric wards between January 2001 and December 2007. Bacterial meningitis was classified as early-onset (day zero to day four) and late-onset (day five to day 28), and data were analyzed according to gestational age and birth weight.

The researchers found that 59 percent of cases were due to GBS, while E. coli accounted for 28 percent of the cases. The remaining cases were caused by Gram-negative bacilli other than E. coli (4 percent), other streptococci (4 percent), Neisseria meningitidis (3 percent), and Listeria monocytogenes (1.5 percent). GBS was the most common cause of early-onset (77 percent) and late-onset (50 percent) meningitis; whereas, E. coli was the most common bacteria isolated from preterm infants. In cases that involved seizures, GBS was present in 41 percent of cases and E. coli in 25 percent. The overall mortality rate was 13 percent, but it increased to 25 percent among preterm or small-for-gestational-age infants, regardless of the cause.

"At the dawn of the 21st century, GBS remains the dominant cause of neonatal bacterial meningitis in developed countries such as France," the authors write.

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