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Sussex charity highlights life-threatening illness
10:10am Friday 29th June 2012 in News
A national screening campaign is urgently needed to stop the rise in the number of babies born with a life-threatening infection.
The warning was made in a report into infant death and disability carried out by Sussex charity Group B Strep Support.
The charity was joined by MPs and medics from around the country at the official launch of the report at the House of Commons.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing death and disability.
The UK National Screening Committee is currently considering the evidence for testing all pregnant women for GBS as part of their routine care.
The report, put together by charity chief executive Jane Plumb, shows the current system of using “risk factors” to identify who to offer preventative medicine to is failing to halt the increase in reported cases.
In countries that have introduced routine testing of pregnant women with preventative medicine given to carriers, there have been dramatic falls in numbers.
Mrs Plumb and her husband Robert, from Lindfield, near Haywards Heath, started Group B Strep Support in 1996 after their second son, Theo, died.
She said: “The continued rise in early onset GBS infection in babies clearly demonstrates that the current system is failing.
“The evidence from across the globe in favour of introducing routine testing is compelling and I hope and believe that the National Screening Committee will reach the same conclusion and recommend that routine testing is introduced across the UK.”
A recent survey has shown that women in the UK would welcome the opportunity to be tested for GBS in the later stages of pregnancy.
They would also accept intravenous antibiotics during labour to reduce the chance of their newborn baby being infected with GBS and the potentially devastating consequences.
To add your name and back the campaign, go to www.gbss.org.uk/epetition.