Campaign to stop fatal baby infections in Haywards Heath

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A Haywards Heath charity has launched a Christmas campaign to prevent the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies.

Group B strep causes infections and meningitis in babies younger than three months old. It can be passed from the mother around birth.

Hannah Wright’s daughter Romilly was born blue in 2005, and developed group B strep.

Hannah said: “Group B strep hit us out of the blue a day after my daughter was born not breathing and put straight into an incubator at Brighton Royal Sussex Hospital. We were informed she had contracted group B strep during the birth process – this was something we knew nothing about, and because of this had done nothing to prepare for.”

After ten days in the special care baby unit, Romilly recovered and is now healthy.

But she was one of the lucky ones. In the UK, one in ten babies with group B strep infection die and one in twenty survivors suffer long-term problems. Half group B Strep meningitis survivors suffer long-term problems. Most of these infections could be prevented.

Group B Strep Support is the UK’s only dedicated charity to helping prevent the infection in newborn babies. The charity, set up by Jane Plumb MBE, who lost her son Theo to the infection, supports and provides information to families and health professionals nationwide. It has launched a fundraising campaign to help the charity attend national maternity and healthcare conferences in 2015.

Hannah continued: “With very little information forthcoming from the hospital, the support line provided by Group B Strep Support both soothed our fears and answered a lot of questions we didn’t even know we had.

“It is an invaluable service as you really can’t make informed decisions about your birth plan without having the information available in the first place. I personally know many women affected by Group B Strep and very often their stories differ in the knowledge they received prior to giving birth.”

Almost 50% of midwives and student midwives surveyed at the 2013 Royal College of Midwives conference said they felt they had inadequate information about group B strep.

The charity said attendance at conferences for health professionals involved in maternity care is key to raising awareness about preventing group B strep infection.

The target is to raise £2,000 by 50 unique donors by December 23.

If the charity achieves that target, it will become a Global Giving Partner which means it will support awareness and fundraising campaigns in the future.

£6 will pay for one information pack. Visit www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/preventing-life-threatening-infection-in-uk-babies/