A CHARITY says it is disappointed by a decision not to introduce routine screening for a potentially life-threatening infection in babies.

Group B Strep Support says the test for pregnant women could save numerous lives every year.

The group B streptococcus infection can cause sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia in newborn babies.

It can be treated by giving the mother antibiotics shortly before she gives birth.

However members of the UK national screening committee have decided it will not make a recommendation to the Government to introduce the test for women in the later stages of pregnancy.

It believes the test would have a limited impact on the worst effects of the infection and could lead to women being given antibiotics when they didn’t need them.

Jane Plumb from Lindfield founded the charity 20 years ago following the death of her son Theo.

She said: “The Government will be making the wrong decision if it accepts the committee’s recommendations.

“There is a huge amount of international evidence demonstrating the benefits of screening pregnant women for group B Strep.

“The 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?”

The chairman of the charity’s medical advisory panel Philip Steer said: “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.”

Bereaved mother Fiona Paddon, whose son Edward died aged just nine days from early-onset group B strep infection, said the decision was outrageous.

She said: “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.”

Screening could prevent more than 80 per cent of GBS infections in babies born to women carrying the bacteria.

The charity campaigns for greater awareness of group B strep in new and expectant parents.

It wants every pregnant woman in the UK to be given accurate information about it as a routine part of antenatal care, coupled with the offer of testing.