Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK, and the most common cause of meningitis in babies under age 3 months. And the number of these infections are rising. Currently:
- 2 babies a day develop group B Strep infection
- 1 baby a week dies from group B Strep infection
- 1 baby a week recovers from group B Strep infection with disability
Shockingly, between 2000 and 2014 there has been an increase of more than 50% in babies developing group B Strep infection in the UK and Republic of Ireland. And, while fewer babies have died from their group B Strep infection, more survivors have disability at discharge.
July is Group B Strep Awareness Month and charity Group B Strep Support is asking everyone to raise awareness during the month, using the hashtag #GBSaware.
Jane Plumb MBE, GBSS Chief Executive, says:
“Knowing about group B Strep when you’re pregnant and in the early weeks after birth can make a massive difference – most group B Strep infections in newborn babies can be prevented, and early treatment can and does save lives.”
There have been significant steps made in recent years to improve the prevention of group B Strep infection in babies in the UK. Highlights include:
- Nearly half of all pregnant women and new mums have now heard of group B Strep, and much more information is being routinely given to pregnant mums about group B Strep
- National guidelines have been published in the UK on preventing group B Strep infection in newborn babies
- ‘Gold Standard’ ECM testing is now widely available privately, and increasingly from NHS trusts
This is great progress, but more is needed if the rising incidence of these often-preventable infections is to be reversed.
There is no doubt that, by identifying which babies are at raised risk of developing group B Strep infection and giving their Mums targeted intravenous antibiotics in labour, tiny lives will be saved. There is also no doubt that early treatment of babies who develop group B Strep infection results in better outcomes for those babies, so knowing the signs to watch for – and act upon – is vital.
This Group B Strep Awareness Month, let’s all work together to raise greater awareness and create more knowledge about group B Strep so that fewer babies are affected by these horrid infections.
Tell everyone about group B Strep, using the hashtag #GBSaware.
Tell new and expectant parents to find out about group B Strep from their midwives, doctors or Group B Strep Support (www.gbss.org.uk) – knowing about group B Strep and in particular knowing the risk factors and symptoms for GBS infection in babies, will save lives.
RCOG Greentop Guideline 36 Group B Strep Disease https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg36/ accessed 12/06/2017
Group B streptococcal disease in UK and Irish infants younger than 90 days. Lancet 2004 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14751704 accessed 12/06/2017
BPSU Annual Report 2015-2016 pp 10-12 http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/system/files/protected/page/BPSU_AR1516_Web_0.pdf accessed 12/06/2017
2017 peer review draft update of RCOG guidelines (due to be published Summer 2017) recommends pregnant women to be given information on group B Strep
2017 peer review draft update of RCOG guidelines (due to be published Summer 2017) recommends ECM testing to be offered to selected women