Testing pregnant women for GBS could prevent infant infection

Report calls for more tests to help reduce infant deaths

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Today requests have been made to introduce more rigorous tests to reduce cases of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in babies. GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening illness in babies and severe cases can lead to disability and infant death.

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A report, published by the UK National Screening Committee, argues that pregnant women should be tested for GBS in order to provide preventative medicine for the infection.

Current methods of preventing GBS by analysing risk factors in pregnant women were proven to be less effective than routine testing used in other countries. Testing in other countries has resulted in a large fall in cases of the illness in newborn babies.

Pregnant women showed their support for the proposed tests in a recent survey, as part of the report. Mums-to-be were shown to be in favour of tests in late pregnancy as well as intravenous antibiotics during labour, if it meant reducing the risk of their newborn being infected.

Jane Plumb, MBE Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support said: ‘The continued rise in early onset GBS infection in babies clearly demonstrates that the current system of using “risk factors” to identify babies at risk of these infections is failing.  

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‘The evidence from across the globe in favour of introducing routine testing is compelling,’ said Plumb.

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