Charity ‘hugely disappointed’ in B Strep screening setback

Chief executive of Group B Strep Support Jane Plumb MBE. Picture: Group B Strep Support
Chief executive of Group B Strep Support Jane Plumb MBE. Picture: Group B Strep Support

A Haywards Heath-based baby charity says it is ‘hugely disappointed’ by a recommendation not to introduce routine screening of pregnant women for group B Strep.

Jane Plumb MBE co-founded Group B Strep Support after the death of her second child to the infection.

The Lindfield mother, who is chief exectuive of the charity, said evidence about the benefits of screening ‘seems to have been ignored’.

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.

The charity says Group B Strep is carried by around 20-30 per cent of the population and, on average in the UK, two babies a day develop the infection; one babies a week dies from Group B Strep infection; and one baby a week survives with disability.

Jane said: “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 nine days from early-onset group B Strep infection 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. It’s outrageous that the UK National Screening Committee is ignoring the wishes of families, charities and health professionals - including the 290,000 who signed the Change.org petition I set up - as well as the huge amounts of international evidence from other countries.”

What do you think? Email: middy.news@jpress.co.uk

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