As a Mum to two children I have obviously gone through 2 full term pregnancies, I have actually been pregnant 7 times in total, 5 of those ending in early miscarriage – one of those needing surgery as my body clung onto the much wanted pregnancy with us still believing all was OK until our 12 week scan when it was discovered our babies heart had stopped 2 weeks before, only days after seeing it beating for a second time.
In pregnancy we put our health and our babies health in the hands of the professionals, they know best after all, they know the tests we need, which vitamins help our babies to thrive and what medicines are needed to keep us all in tip top condition.
BUT are you aware there is one test which isn’t routinely carried out in the UK? This is testing for Group B Streptococcus (GBS)
On average 2 babies a day in the UK will develop a group B strep infection, 1 baby a week in the UK dies from a group B strep infection and 1 baby a week is left with life long disabilities from group B strep infection.
What is Group B Streptococcus?
Group B Streptococcus is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborn babies, and of meningitis in babies up to age 3 months.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a normal bacterium which is carried by 20-40% of adults, most commonly in the gut, and for up to 25% of women, in the vagina, usually without symptoms or side-effects.
GBS can occasionally cause infection, most commonly in newborn babies, sometimes in adults and, very rarely, during pregnancy and before labour.
There are two types of GBS infection in newborns: early and late-onset:
Early-onset GBS infection is more common (approximately 2/3 of cases in babies) and occurs when the baby is up to 6 days old; a key symptom is the rapid development of breathing problems, associated with blood poisoning.
Late-onset GBS infection – usually presenting as sepsis and meningitis – occurs between age 7 days and up to age 3 months. After 3 months’ old, GBS infection in babies is extremely rare – www.gbss.org.uk
GBS isn’t something I was made aware of during my pregnancies, this is most likely because there wasn’t NHS testing routinely available for it, had I been made aware I could have made an informed choice but whether to pay for a test to be done for me, and knowing the trouble I had had to successfully carry my much wanted babies it is something I would have paid to have done. Tests for GBS are available for £35 – you can find them here.
There is good news for GBS carriers though, if you know you are a carrier intravenous antibiotic’s should be given at the onset of labour and at regular intervals throughout your labour, this preventative action can help to minimise the chance of your newborn baby developing group B Strep infection.
There is an online petition calling for the routine screening of group B strep to be provided to all pregnant woman, why not join the other 500,000 people who would like to see this screening routinely available and sign below
Not convinced or still unsure? Watch this 2 minute video