A research paper was published in January 2004 which, for the first time, establishes the minimum current burden of GBS disease in UK and Irish infants. The study identified cases of invasive GBS disease in infants younger than 90 days between 1 February 2000 and 28 February 2001 through surveillance involving paediatricians, microbiologists, and parents. 568 cases were identified, equivalent to a total incidence of 0.72 per 1000 live births; the incidence for early-onset disease was 0.48 per 1000, and for late-onset disease was 0.24 per 1000. Risk factors were identifiable for 218 (58%) cases of early-onset disease. 53 infants died (overall 9.7%). However, the study states, “Paediatricians and microbiologists failed to report 44% and 21% of cases respectively. The capture-recapture analysis suggests that the total number of cases for England, Wales & the Channel Islands may actually be 23% (21%-40%) higher than estimated from reports alone.”UK research published in June 2003 estimates that the true incidence of GBS infection in newborn babies may be as high as 3.6 in every 1,000 babies born. Lancet. 2003 Jun 7;363(9373):1953-4. Estimated early-onset group B streptococcal neonatal disease. Luck S, Torny M, d’Agapeyeff K, Pitt A, Heath P, Breathnach A, Russell AB. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/)So, the figures reported in this study should be looked upon as absolute minimum incidence figures – using them as they are will not only underestimate the true incidence of GBS infection but, inevitably, also underestimate the risks to babies from GBS infection. Group B streptococcal disease in UK and Irish infants younger than 90 days. Heath PT, Balfour G, Weisner AM, Efstratiou A, Lamagni TL, Tighe H, O’Connell LA, Cafferkey M, Verlander NQ, Nicoll A, McCartney AC; PHLS Group B Streptococcus Working Group. Lancet. 2004 Jan 24;363(9405):292-4 (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/).