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The effect of Staphylococcus aureus carriage in late pregnancy on antibody levels to staphylococcal toxins in cord blood and breast milk.

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2008
<mark>Journal</mark>FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology
Issue number1
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)137-143
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We investigated the effect of carriage of Staphylococcus aureus in the later stages of pregnancy on levels of antibody specific to the S. aureus toxins, staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), staphylococcal enterotoxin C (SEC) and toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST-1), in cord blood and breast milk and also explored the relationship between levels of antibody in antenatal serum and cord blood. Nasopharyngeal swabs and stool samples were collected on two occasions, from 96 women, during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. Samples were cultured and S. aureus isolates were identified. Antenatal and cord blood samples from the same women and their infants were analysed for IgG antibody to SEB, SEC and TSST-1 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Breast milk samples were analysed for IgA antibody to the same toxins. We found that S. aureus carriage in pregnancy is common and exposure to a toxin-producing isolate boosts immunity. Over 89% of women and infants have some protective antibody to the toxins, and antitoxin IgG levels are higher in cord blood samples compared with antenatal samples. Levels of cord blood IgG and breast milk IgA specific for the staphylococcal toxins vary. Some infants lack protection and could be at risk of toxin-induced disease.