Background: Data are limited regarding long-term consequences of invasive GBS (iGBS) disease in early infancy, especially from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) where most cases occur. We aimed to estimate risk of neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in children with a history of iGBS disease. Methods: A multi-country matched cohort study was undertaken in South Africa, India, Mozambique, Kenya, and Argentina from October 2019 to April 2021. The exposure of interest was defined as a history of iGBS disease (sepsis or meningitis) before 90 days of age, amongst children now aged 1·5–18 years. Age and sex-matched, children without history of GBS were also recruited. Age-appropriate, culturally-adapted assessments were used to define NDI across multiple domains (cognitive, motor, hearing, vision, emotional-behaviour, growth). Pooled NDI risk was meta-analysed across sites. Association of iGBS exposure and NDI outcome was estimated using modified Poisson regression with robust variance estimator. Findings: Amongst 138 iGBS survivors and 390 non-iGBS children, 38·1% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 30·0% – 46·6%) of iGBS children had any NDI, compared to 21·7% (95% CI: 17·7% - 26·0%) of non- iGBS children, with notable between-site heterogeneity. Risk of moderate/severe NDI was 15·0% (95% CI: 3·4% - 30·8%) among GBS-meningitis, 5·6% (95% CI: 1·5% - 13·7%) for GBS-sepsis survivors. The adjusted risk ratio (aRR) for moderate/severe NDI among iGBS survivors was 1.27 (95% CI: 0.65, 2.45), when compared to non-GBS children. Mild impairment was more frequent in iGBS (27.6% (95% CI: 20.3 – 35.5%)) compared to non-GBS children (12.9% (95% CI: 9.7% - 16.4%)). The risk of emotional-behavioural problems was similar irrespective of iGBS exposure (aRR=0.98 (95% CI: 0.55, 1.77)). Interpretation: Our findings suggest that iGBS disease is on average associated with a higher risk of moderate/severe NDI, however substantial variation in risk was observed between sites and data are consistent with a wide range of values. Our study underlines the importance of long-term follow-up for at-risk neonates and more feasible, standardised assessments to facilitate diagnosis in research and clinical practice. Funding: This work was supported by a grant (INV-009018) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine.
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