Many women have Group B streptococcus (also called GBS or Group B strep) and don’t even know it because they have no signs or symptoms.
While it isn’t that serious for adults, the tiny bacteria can severely affect newborns.
In order to prevent a baby from being exposed to the GBS bacteria, doctors should test pregnant women for Group B strep. If a person tests positive for GBS, she should be treated with antibiotics.
Sadly, newborns can come into contact with the untreated bacteria, the mother unintentionally can pass the bacteria onto her baby during a vaginal childbirth.
Group B streptococcus : #WhyGuess – get the test
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
National charity Group B Strep Support campaigns for greater awareness of group B Strep in new and expectant parents and wants every pregnant woman in the UK to be given accurate information about group B Strep as a routine part of antenatal care, coupled with the offer of testing for group B Strep carriage at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy.
Strepelle costs ÂŁ39.99 and is available from selected independent pharmacies and online from www.strepelle.com.