Leo’s mum Maria writes,
“At 40 weeks I didn’t test positive for group B Strep, when my urine was tested, following a water infection. I had heard of group B Strep infection and had even read up on the symptoms, but when it was happening to us it all seemed to go out of the window…
Leo was born at 41 weeks and was under regular observations following an ectopic heartbeat detected in the womb. He was absolutely perfect, weighing 8 lb 6 oz and with the most incredible mop of dark hair!
He didn’t take to the breast very well and within a few hours we noticed he was quite whiny and unsettled. We raised the alarm when the midwife came in and she was great – we probably owe his life to her.
Within a few hours, Leo was intubated and very poorly in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He looked nothing like the healthy baby who had been born just 12 hours earlier.
We thought he was going to die.
The fast-acting team had already put him on the correct antibiotics but it was a few days before his bloods had cultured group B Strep and the diagnosis of GBS sepsis was confirmed.
We were exceptionally relieved that his lumbar puncture showed no signs of meningitis and bit by bit, line by line, Leo started to recover. To breathe on his own, to feed from a bottle, to have cuddles with us and – 2 weeks later – to come home with us as a healthy baby.
I know that we are the lucky ones because we got to take our baby home and he has no lasting effects. So now we see it as our job to raise as much awareness as possible about the signs of GBS infection and that a negative test 1 doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods!”
1 The reliability of a negative result from a test for group B Strep carriage depends on both where the samples were taken from, and on what method was used to process those samples. A negative group B Strep result from an ECM test is highly reliable. Research has found that, when the ECM (Enriched Culture medium) test was properly performed within 5 weeks of the mother giving birth, a negative result was 96% predictive that she would not be carrying group B Strep when she gave birth (so only 4% of women acquired GBS carriage between the test and giving birth). A negative group B Strep result from a standard NHS swab test, however, is not reliable – this test gives a high proportion of false-negative results. This test only finds group B Strep about half the times it is present, so around half (50%) of those carrying group B Strep will be incorrectly told they are not. If you have tested negative using the ECM test then the result is highly reliable for the next 5 weeks. Please do discuss the results with your midwife and healthcare professionals to discuss your options and whether you would prefer to choose to have IV antibiotics in labour.