Most serious neonatal streptococcal infections are caused by group-B streptococci. The pattern of serious group-B neonatal disease in Britain resembles that described in other countries; both "early-onset" and "late-onset" forms are seen, but reliable incidence rates have not yet been determined. Serological-type III strains predominate in neonatal meningitis in Britain, but not so markedly as in some parts of the U.S.A. A deficiency of group-II strains in meningitis is, however, apparent in both countries. Present information about the carriage of group-B streptococci suggests that antibiotic prophylaxis administered to mothers or infants is unlikely to reduce greatly the frequency of "early-onset" disease. The continuous presence of a suitable chemical disinfectant in the vagina during labour might be more effective. Insufficient is known about the epidemiology of "late-onset" neonatal disease for rational preventive measures to be designed. More information is required about the postnatal acquisition of group-B streptococci by neonates and its sources, and about passive transfer of type-specific antibody from the mother to her child.
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