mothers hands and baby's feet
Group B Strep is not something many of you may have heard of. I had no idea until one of my team shared her experience. This month (July) is Group B Strep Awareness month and after reading up about it I wanted to raise the profile of the disease. Group B Strep can affect adults with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer but the biggest area of concern is for pregnant women.
1 in 4 pregnant women carry Group B Strep but many are simply unaware. There aren’t always obvious symptoms or side-effects. It causes infection in newborn babies who can contract the bacteria during labour. At least two babies a day, develop a Group B Strep infection and one baby a week will die from it. Other babies have been left with long-term disabilities. The only way to prevent the infection transferring from mother to child, is for the mother to be given intravenous antibiotics during labour. But, women will only receive this if they are aware of carrying the bacteria. This sounds like a simple mend – test pregnant women; but this is not done as standard.


Routine screening happens in the USA and in many European countries, so why are we behind? The Department of Health takes advice from the National Screening Committee, who fear the test is not accurate enough to determine between early-onset GBS infection and late-onset infection. I see their point of view but the question must be asked, if it is routine in many other countries, why not here in the UK? If more research is needed then we need to get on with it.
Trials have taken place in a London hospital. 5,000 pregnant women were tested for GBS. Anyone who tested positive received antibiotics during labour. They saw 80% reduction in infected babies.
Awareness needs to be raised about this subject too.  July is Group B Strep month, so it is the perfect time for me to try and raise the profile as many women haven’t heard of Group B Strep, let alone know if they carry it.
Public Health England told a BBC investigation that the number of babies being made ill by the infection has increased by 12% between 2011 and 2015.
I have read the reports and replies to petitions, but it does leave me wondering why we are not routinely testing pregnant women just like our counterparts in the USA and in some European countries.
You can find out more about Group B Strep on the NHS website or via the charity Group B Strep Support.
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