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DAKAR - A bacterial infection passed from mothers to babies kills around 150,000 unborn children and infants a year but has been widely overlooked in developing countries, researchers said on Monday as they urged faster progress on developing a vaccine.
Nearly one in five pregnant women worldwide is infected with Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which causes stillbirths, deaths and permanent problems such as vision and hearing loss in babies, researchers found in the first global study of the disease.
Africa is disproportionately affected, with 65 percent of the world's stillbirths and infant deaths from GBS, though it is home to only about 13 percent of the world's population, according to the study led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Most of these deaths could be prevented by a new vaccine that is still in clinical development, the study found.
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