Baby charity Group B Strep Support is hugely disappointed by the recommendation of the UK National Screening Committee that the Government should not introduce routine screening of pregnant women for group B Strep.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS or Strep B) is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies – causing sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.
Group B Strep is carried by around 20-30% of the population and, on average, in the UK:
- 2 babies a day develop group B Strep infection
- 1 baby a week dies from group B Strep infection
- 1 baby a week survives with disability
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive Group B Strep Support says, “The Government will be making the wrong decision if it accepts the UK National Screening Committee’s recommendations against a group B Strep screening programme. There is a huge amount of international evidence demonstrating the benefits of screening pregnant women for group B Strep. For example, since the USA first recommended screening in 1996, the incidence of group B Strep infection in babies has halved without comcommitant harms. Yet the UK has seen a rise of 30% since 2000, despite our risk-based prevention strategy introduced in 2003. This evidence seems to have been ignored, despite our and others highlighting it during this during the public consultation.The UK National Screening Committee position is unacceptable. How can they advocate denying pregnant women the opportunity to make an informed choice about their and their baby’s care?”
Bereaved mother Fiona Paddon, whose son Edward died aged just 9 days from early-onset group B Strep infection says, “Had screening been in place when I gave birth in 2014, it’s very likely my son Edward would still be alive and well. Instead, my partner Scott and I will never see his first steps, never hear his first words. It’s outrageous that the UK National Screening Committee is ignoring the wishes of
Professor Philip Steer, Chair of the Group B Strep Support Medical Advisory Panel, says,
“I am disappointed that, once again, the UK National Screening Committee has chosen to deny women using the NHS the option to choose group B Strep screening. Women found by chance to be carriers of group B Strep are offered intravenous penicillin in labour to protect their baby from this potentially devastating illness, and yet this is being denied to other carriers whose status remains unknown.”