The role of maternally acquired antibody to native type III polysacchande of group B Streptococcus as a determinant of susceptibility for infant systemic infection was investigated. Sera from 11 1 acutely ill infants with type III group B streptococcal bacteremia and/or meningitis and their mothers, and cord sera from 45 healthy neonates and their mothers who had type III group B streptococcal vaginal colonization at delivery were studied. Sera from each of 111 acutely ill infants contained very low levels ofantibody (sjlt 1.7 µg/ml, median 0.4 µg/ml), and a significant correlation with maternal levels was tested for early onset infection (median 0.6 µg/ml; r = .76; P sjlt .01). Women whose infants remained well had antibody levels sjgt 2 µg/ml in their sera (73%) more often than those whose infants developed symptomatic infection (17%) (P sjlt .001), and the median level in their sera (12.6 µg/ml) was considerably higher. Study of sera obtained during convalescence from 86 surviving infants indicated a poor antibody response to infection. In contrast, high levels of antibody were detected in sera from each of five convalescent women with postpartum bacteremia. These data extend earlier observations suggesting the correlation between low levels of type-specific antibody in serum and risk for systemic infection with type III strains of group B streptococci.
- Received December 1, 1980.
- Accepted February 3, 1981.
- Copyright © 1981 by the American Academy of Pediatrics