£10 Strep B test could save newborns

Mum calls for Strep B test to be made routine after the loss of her baby

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A mum whose baby died 15 hours after he was born is urging for a £10 test for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) to be made routine on the NHS.

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Gemma Asling-Carthy, 26, says dozens of lives could be saved if hospitals offered the test for GBS, which killed her son, Cole.

GBS is a bacteria that lives in the vagina and rectum and it can be found in a quarter of women of childbearing age. It’s usually harmless for you but it can pass to your baby at birth. Although rare, it can cause preterm delivery, maternal infections, stillbirths and late miscarriages. More commonly, newborns can suffer long-term mental or physical handicap.

The infection can be detected through a vaginal swab, called the Enriched Culture Medium (ECM) test, which is offered elsewhere in Europe. However, the Department of Health have said there’s insufficient evidence to justify screening for all women.

“£10 is nothing compared to saving a baby’s life but the NHS clearly doesn’t see it that way,” said Gemma.

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If you’re pregnant and would like the test for GBS, there are a few NHS hospitals in the UK that offer the ECM test so it’s worth asking if your hospital does. However, there are also two private laboratories that offer a postal service anywhere in the UK for the test.

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