This podcast explores how one researcher is working to keep babies safer without turning to antibiotics. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) presence in the mother is a leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Doctors often treat mothers with antibiotics to curb the infection, which presents its own complications. Richard interviews a microbiologist working on alternatives.
Listen and learn
In this episode, Richard speaks with a researcher specializing in perinatal microbiology and infections of the perinatal period. She examines how these infections can modify the outcome for mothers and babies. By looking at the epidemiology and how GBS strains change regarding capsule type and other factors in different regions, she hopes to learn more about the bacteria to utilize a bacteriophage for infecting the bacteria.
What’s a bacteriophage versus a virus? One way to understand the difference is to consider the host: bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. The bacteriophage life cycle is intertwined with the host bacteria, and many researchers are looking at bacteriophages in the human body as a treatment alternative to antibiotics.
Because antibiotics are used to treat bacterial versus viral infections and can kill beneficial organisms inhabiting the baby, phage therapy may benefit babies in multiple ways. GBS transmission occurs during the vaginal birth process if the mother has the bacteria. While some babies can remain healthy despite this, others are infected with harmful results including death. Therefore, widespread screening is in place, testing the mother.
Generally a mother is given antibiotics a few hour before labor. This microbiologist is researching candidate phages for therapy and also trying to understand more about natural exposure to phages during pregnancy. Listen in for more about this dynamic and potentially life-saving work.
Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK