The UK National Screening Committee (NSC) has published the report they commissioned which has recommended against introducing a UK screening programme for group B Strep.
The NSC revealed this in their review of antenatal screening for group B Strep, which today opened for public consultation. You can download their ‘expert review for Group B Streptococcus’ here (PDF document, 3.86MB).
This is not a final decision, as their review is now subject to a public consultation, and you can have your say on the review and its conclusion.
The public consultation runs until Wednesday 25 January 2017. Please send your comments to them by e-mail ensuring you use this feedback form by Wednesday 25 January 2017. Be aware that all responses will be published on the website after the UK NSC makes its final recommendation.
Group B Strep Support will be responding to the consultation, expressing our disappointment in their recommendation, which will leave hundreds of babies every year defenceless against group B Strep infection. Naturally, as the document is 244 pages long and we’ve only had a copy this afternoon, it will take some time for the charity to put together a comprehensive response. However, we can say we completely disagree with the NSC’s conclusions, and we will be making a strong case for an antenatal screening programme for group B Strep.
Group B Strep Support’s Chief Executive, Jane Plumb MBE commented:
The NSC’s recommendation against routine screening for group B Strep is hugely disappointing and flies in the face of the evidence. Every year, hundreds of newborn babies suffer illness, disability and even death due to group B Strep. This decision means future babies will suffer needlessly from infections which should have been prevented – some of these precious babies will die, others will survive with life-long disabilities. For all families touched by group B Strep it will be a traumatic experience.
Quite why the NSC ignores evidence from other countries, where screening programmes have led to huge reductions in group B Strep infection, is beyond me. The UK’s incidence of GBS infection is rising – we need to be doing more, not sticking blindly with the status quo.
I encourage those who share our concerns to respond to the public consultation. We need a better prevention strategy to reduce the unacceptably high levels of preventable group B Strep infection in UK babies.
The UK’s risk-based prevention strategy is failing to stem the rising tide of group B Strep infection in newborn babies. A safe and effective vaccine is at least a decade away. Screening pregnant women for group B Strep carriage and offering the carriers antibiotics in labour – an approach recognised as international best practice and undertaken for more than a decade in other developed countries – is the best way we currently have to protect our unborn babies.
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