|Dr Tash Ching|
Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a very fast-acting bacteria, is a major cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis. Once infected, an otherwise healthy baby can become critically ill within hours.
For the first time, Monash Children’s Hospital Paediatric Registrar and Monash University researcher Dr Tash Ching has shown that breastmilk—until now thought to be a possible risk factor—is not associated with late-onset GBS infection.
Dr Tash Ching’s ground-breaking research won the poster prize at the Australasian Society of Infectious Diseases annual scientific meeting, held on the Gold Coast last week.
“While early-onset GBS (occurring in babies less than a week old) and its risks are well understood, we’ve been less certain of the transmission risk factors in late-onset disease (babies presenting between one week and three months of age),” said Dr Ching.
“Although controversial, there have been reports of numerous cases of late-onset disease (LOD) associated with GBS from breast milk.”
“This has placed considerable stress on mothers and clinicians regarding the safety of ongoing breast feeding,” Dr Ching said.
“Our study now demonstrates for the first time that breast feeding does not increase the risk of late onset newborn sepsis with Group B streptococcus.”
“We can now reassure parents with confidence that breastmilk does not present a risk of infection.”
This study was a collaboration between Monash Health, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Barwon and Bendigo Hospitals.