Group B streptococcal colonization and serotype-specific immunity in pregnant women at delivery

Judith R. Campbell, Sharon L. Hillier, Marijane A. Krohn, Patricia Ferrieri, Dori F. Zaleznik, Carol J. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the relationship between serum concentration of group B streptococcal capsular polysaccharide-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) G, colonization status, race or ethnicity, and age in pregnant women. Methods: Pregnant women (n = 3307) were enrolled from geographically and ethnically diverse populations. At the time of admission for delivery, swabs of the lower vagina and rectum were obtained for isolation of group B streptococci. In a subset of women whose sera were available, capsular polysaccharide- specific IgG concentrations were quantified by serotype-specific (Ia, Ib, II, III, and V) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and compared by group B streptococcal colonization status. Results: Group B streptococcal colonization was detected in 856 women (26%), and the rate was significantly higher among black women (37%) than in other racial or ethnic groups (odds ratio 1.7, 95% confidence interval 1.4, 2.1). Colonization status did not differ by study site or age. Colonization with serotypes Ia, II, III, or V was associated with significantly higher serum concentrations of IgG specific for the capsular polysaccharide of the colonizing serotype compared with noncolonization. However, 48% of colonized women had low capsular polysaccharide-specific IgG levels (less than 0.5 μg/mL) in their delivery sera. Colonized teenagers had the lowest median concentration. Conclusion: Colonization with group B streptococcus can elicit a systemic immune response, with a cumulative increase in the prevalence of capsular polysaccharide-specific IgG with increasing age. Conversely, low antibody levels in colonized teenagers might account in part for the reported increased risk of group B streptococcal disease in neonates born to these patients. (C) 2000 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-503
Number of pages6
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases contract AI-75326 (the Streptococcal Initiative).


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