Group B Strep Support welcomes the updated clinical guidance from The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists on preventing group B Strep infection in newborn babies. When the recommendations are fully implemented across the UK, we believe will start to see the rate of avoidable group B Strep infection in newborn babies start to fall.
The key recommendations are that:
- All pregnant women are provided with an information leaflet on group B Strep (new)
- Women who carried GBS in a previous pregnancy should be offered the option of GBS-specific (ECM) testing for GBS late in the current pregnancy (new)
- Women are offered intravenous antibiotics in labour where:
- Mum is in established preterm labour (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) (new)
- GBS has been detected during the current pregnancy
- GBS was detected in a previous pregnancy and the baby was healthy, and Mum has not had a negative ECM test in the current pregnancy (new)
- A previous baby developed GBS infection
- Mum has a fever in labour of 38 or higher
The new recommendations, not least providing pregnant women clear, concise information, will play a vital role in raising awareness and empowering women to make informed decisions about what is right for them and their babies. We are currently working with the RCOG to create a joint leaflet, and expect this to be available by the end of the year.
Recommending that women who carried GBS in a previous pregnancy should be offered either routine antibiotics OR a proper test will mean that NHS trusts will make the GBS-specific ECM test available.
And offering antibiotics to women in preterm labour will help protect preterm babies, who are more vulnerable to all kinds of things, including GBS infection, than their full-term counterparts and who suffer disproportionately as a result.
There are of course a number of other new recommendations but we think the above three will have the biggest impact on preventing avoidable GBS infection in newborn babies.
We know some people will be disappointed that the guidelines don’t recommend universal testing for GBS carriage of all pregnant women. While we believe this would prevent more GBS infection, disability and death in newborn babies, it is the UK National Screening Committee’s responsibility to recommend for or against screening. Sadly, despite most developed countries using the screening approach to GBS prevention and seeing major reductions, the UK NSC has rejected international evidence. Their next planned review is 2019/20.
“We welcome this major update to The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) clinical guidance which represents a significant improvement in the procedure to prevent Group B Strep infection in newborn babies. When this is fully implemented across the UK, we should at last see the rate of these usually preventable infections start to fall.
“The key new recommendations are for
- all women in established preterm labour to be offered intravenous antibiotics
- certain women are to be offered the ECM test for GBS carriage during pregnancy within the NHS and
- all pregnant women are to be provided with an information leaflet on GBS.
“These new recommendations will mean that more babies are protected from avoidable GBS infection in babies, which is great news for families and their babies.
“We at Group B Strep Support have been working closely with the RCOG to develop a joint patient information leaflet, which will significantly improve the quality and regularity of information on GBS. This increased access to clear, concise information will play a vital role in raising awareness of GBS and empowering women to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and in the early days after birth.”