My beautiful niece was in special care when she was born because she had contracted Group B Strep (GBS), probably during birth. She was quite unwell and had to have antibiotics to make her better and spend some time in the NICU.
GBS isn’t something that is routinely screened for in the UK. Having chatted to a few midwives i’ve learned that this is a pretty complex issue, and although there is a test its not always accurate enough for the NHS to pay for a blanket screening programme, I expect the illness is prevalent enough for them to justify it either. It always comes down to money doesn’t it? Well, I always think that prevention and early intervention is better than treatment of established problems – so I think (with zero medical knowledge, I might add) that there should be a national screening programme.
But there is a test available privately – I actually had one in pregnancy with Joni, which was paid for. I believe it was around £30-£50 and administered by a local private midwife.
There is this website, who offer support for people with the condition or concerned about it. It has information about the infection and the test and treatment. It dispels a LOAD of myths with facts like GBS is not a sexually transmitted disease and a mother or father can carry it rather happily without ever knowing or ever being treated for it so it is completely innocently passed on to the baby. Simply giving the mother antibiotics in labour can stop the illness from being passed to the baby being born.
Importantly, this organisation are also petitioning government to change the screening procedure for GBS – so sign the petition – the link is on the main page of the website here along with a load of important information. Read it, and if you agree SIGN IT!
If there was more information about this completely avoidable complication then expensive stays in NICU can be avoided and parents can take home their happy and healthy baby after giving birth, as it should be!