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Group B Strep Awareness Month 2016
July 2016 is to be Group B Strep Awareness Month and rarely was an initiative such as this more needed since there still appears to be confusion about this infection despite the tireless efforts over many years by the charity and campaign organisation Group B Strep Support.
Around a third of women, and hence a third of pregnant women, are colonised with this and in most cases this is harmless. However, in the UK around 1 in 1,000 babies per year pick up GBS often with terrible consequences. If diagnosed swiftly enough and if appropriate antibiotics are given the child should emerge unscathed but in my experience of legal claims relating to this problem, all too often the initial signs are missed or misdiagnosed and preventative measures are not taken until it is too late. Far too many babies die or are left brain-injured from the infection.
It would give obstetricians, midwives and neonatal doctors and nurses much more of a fighting chance if they knew in advance which mums-to-be were colonised (or in a significant minority of cases, infected – which greatly increases the likelihood of the baby picking up GBS) but the NHS recently decided not to initiate routine testing for all pregnant patients. The campaign “Why guess when you can test” strives to reverse this decision and all those concerned about the situation are urged to sign the petition (available on-line). Without a change in practice, too many babies are condemned to suffer from an infection that should be remediable. They and their families deserve better.