We have written many posts over the years to help raise awareness of the national charity Group B Strep Support, so we were pleased to see a new DIY Group B Strep test is now available for pregnant women.
Pregnant women can now test for the leading cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies.
DIY group B Strep test available in the UK
With one in four pregnant women unknowingly carrying group B Strep bacteria, which causes meningitis, sepsis or pneumonia in more than 500 newborn babies a year. On average, one newborn baby a week dies from GBSÂ infection.
The testing for Group B Streptococcus is not routinely available through the NHS, unlike countries such as the USA, France, Germany, Poland and many others.
The newÂ test for GBS is called Strepelle and uses the international âgold standardâ ECM method for detecting group B Strep carriage, recognised in Public Health Englandâs UK Standard.
The ECM test is rarely available within the NHSÂ although half of UK maternity units offer some testing for GBS carriage (rarely the ECM test), using a much less sensitive method that will miss up to half of carriers. GBSÂ infection in newborns born to women carryingÂ GBS can be reduced by over 80% by offering intravenous antibiotics (usually penicillin) during labour to women identified as carrying GBSÂ late in pregnancy
âPregnant women are rarely offered testing in the NHS, and if they are, a âgold-standardâ test like Strepelle is seldom available.Â With their help, and their test, we are confident that more babies will be protected from preventable group B Strep infection.â
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support
Strepelle is an easy to use home-to-laboratory test recommended from 35 weeks gestation. Once the laboratory has received the completed test, the results are sent via text within three working days and, for positive results, a hard-copy of the results is also sent.
âCommercial tests like Strepelle enable women to find out whether they carry group B Strep in pregnancy so they can make informed choices about what is best for them and their baby.Â Identifying pregnant women likely to be carrying group B Strep and giving them IV penicillin during labour can reduce group B Strep infection in newborn babies by over 80%â.
Brendan Farrell, Chairman and CEO of HiberGene Diagnostics
Strepelle costs ÂŁ39.99 and is available from selected independent pharmacies and online from www.strepelle.com.