A SCRIPT error in a Coronation Street episode has helped highlight a charity’s work to raise awareness of a deadly infection in newborn babies.
Long-standing character Kevin Webster appeared to ‘forget” the death of his son 15 years ago.
His baby, Jake, died from a group B streptococcus (GBS) infection just days after being born.
The soap mechanic, played by actor Michael Le Vell, told his daughter Sophie: “Must be hard burying one of your kids,” as he helped her organise the funeral of her girlfriend Maddie.
Lindfield-based charity Group B Strep Support said the mistake caused immediate uproar among the soap’s fans and once again helped highlight the existence of the infection.
The charity was founded by Jane Plumb from Lindfield in 1996 following the death of her baby son Theo.
It is campaigning for all women to be routinely tested for GBS during their pregnancy and has grown to become a national organisation.
GBS is the most common cause of life- threatening infection in newborn babies passed on by mothers.
The charity says routine testing could save the lives of scores of babies a year and stop hundreds more from developing serious complications which can lead to brain damage and limb amputation.
Its work aims to raise awareness of the infection and ensure more women are screened so they can have the antibiotics they need.
Mrs Plumb said when the story about Kevin’s baby’s death first aired 15 years it raised huge awareness of GBS for the first time in the UK.
She said the UK was still failing to reduce the number of cases, and each week one baby died from the infection and every fortnight one survivor was left with a long-term mental or physical disability.
The NHS does not routinely offer pregnant women specific GBS testing.
Mrs Plumb said: “Most infections are preventable. Most developed countries with a GBS prevention strategy offer pregnant women testing specifically for GBS and offer carriers antibiotics in labour.
“They have seen their incidence of GBS infections dramatically fall – in Spain by 86%, the USA by over 80% and France by 71%. It is time the UK caught up.”