July is Group B Strep Awareness Month, something UK charity Group B Strep Support (GBSS) runs every year to improve awareness in parents and families.
Group B Strep (GBS) is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, leading to sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. During July, around 62 babies will develop a group B Strep infection. On average, two babies each day in the UK develop GBS infection. Tragically, each week, one baby dies from a GBS infection and one other is left with a life-changing disability.
However, most of these infections could be prevented if parents were told about GBS during pregnancy, and the mother offered a GBS test. If antibiotics are given in labour to women who test positive for GBS, this significantly reduces the risk of a newborn baby developing a GBS infection.
Despite this the UK doesn’t yet routinely test pregnant women for GBS, unlike many other countries. There is a postcode lottery for who does and doesn’t get tested, and many women choose to get tested privately.
Introducing routine screening could potentially prevent GBS infection in 350 babies every year, saving 15 babies’ lives and protecting another 15 from life-changing disability. This is why the charity campaigns for better prevention strategies in the UK, and wants women to be at least told about group B Strep and the availability of a private test.
This July, GBSS are focussing on raising awareness of our their GBS information leaflet and making sure every pregnant woman in the UK is given a copy, so they can make informed choices about their care. To find out more and get involved in Group B Strep Awareness Month, visit www.gbss.org.uk/AwarenessMonth