Aetiology of neonatal sepsis in Nigeria, and relevance of group b streptococcus: A systematic review

Nubwa Medugu, Kenneth Iregbu, Pui Ying Iroh Tam, Stephen Obaro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background Group B Streptococcus (GBS) causes invasive infections in neonates and has been implicated as a cause of prelabour rupture of membranes, preterm delivery and stillbirths. The success of phase II trials of polyvalent polysaccharide GBS vaccines indicates that these infections are potentially preventable. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with one of the highest birth rates, one of the highest neonatal sepsis incidence rates and one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Therefore, before the possible introduction of preventive strategies such as intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis or GBS vaccine into Nigeria, it is vital that there is accurate data on the aetiology of neonatal sepsis and on the incidence of GBS neonatal sepsis in particular. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence and aetiology of neonatal sepsis in Nigeria with a focus on GBS sepsis and also to assess the potential impact of a GBS vaccine. Methods A literature search was conducted on the databases of African journals online, PubMed and Google Scholar for works conducted between 1987 to 2017. Case reports, reviews, and studies not stating specific culture methods or specific bacteria isolated were excluded. Data extracted included; incidence of neonatal sepsis, method of blood culture, blood volume, sample size, bacterial agents isolated and history of antibiotic use. PRISMA guidelines were followed and modified Down’s and Black criteria used to evaluate the quality of studies. Results A total of 5,114 studies were reviewed for neonatal sepsis out of which 24 consisting of a total of 2,280 cases were selected for final review. Nine studies met criteria for assessment of hospital based incidence of neonatal sepsis representing 31,305 hospital births. The incidence of neonatal sepsis was 18.2/1000 livebirths with range from 7-55/1000 livebirths while the GBS incidence was 0.06/1000 livebirths with range from 0-2/1000 live births. We discovered various limitations such as identification techniques that could result in underestimation of the true incidence of GBS sepsis. Pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus were more commonly isolated than GBS. Implications of key findings The hospital based incidence of neonatal sepsis was high at 18.2/1000 live births while that due to GBS was 0.06/1000 live births. The burden of neonatal sepsis, including that attributable to GBS is substantial and could be reduced by preventive strategies such as intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis or GBS vaccine. There is however very sparse meaningful data currently. Well planned prospective studies with larger sample sizes, more advanced isolation and identification techniques and those following up invasive disease cases for possible short and long term sequelae are needed—not only prior to possible introduction of the vaccine to determine the baseline epidemiology, but also thereafter to monitor its impact on the population. Strategies need to be developed to also reduce the morbidity and mortality attributable to other bacteria that have an incidence even greater than that of GBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0200350
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors have no competing interests to declare. SKO is supported in part by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant # OPP1034619), the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (grant #5 R01 AI097493-03) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, but none of these had a role in the study design, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the report.

Publisher Copyright:
This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review


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