National charity launches campaign to save babies’ lives – “Why guess … when you can test?”
The “Why Guess?” campaign wants to stop health professionals having to guess whether a woman is carrying the potentially deadly group B Strep bacteria and start using the group B Strep-specific (ECM) test to detect carriage late in pregnancy.
On average, every day a newborn baby develops group B Strep infection; each week a newborn baby dies in the UK from group B Strep infection; each fortnight a survivor is left with long-term disabilities – physical, mental, or both.
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support says “Most group B Strep infections in newborn babies can be prevented when we know which Mums are carrying the bacteria.
Yet few health professionals have access to the “gold standard” ECM test for group B Strep carriage. The only test available to them misses 40% of carriers.}}” This is just not good enough – in what other field of medicine would we accept such appalling test accuracy when a more accurate test is available?”
The safe and simple ECM test for group B Strep carriage late in pregnancy – which costs the NHS less than £11 – means prevention measures can be taken based on fact, not guesswork.Why guess, when you can test?”
Charlotte Heath, whose daughter Aimee is seriously disabled from her GBS infection, says “Had I been tested for GBS and found positive, I could have been offered antibiotics in labour and Aimee’s illness and disabilities would have been prevented.
It would be absolutely amazing if every pregnant woman was offered a test as the costs of a disabled child, or even losing a child, far outweigh the cost of a test. It is just mad how they haven’t brought it in here. Other countries do it, why doesn’t ours? Why guess when you can test?”
On 23 July 2011, Charlotte Heath gave birth to her beautiful daughter Aimee. All appeared well until the next morning when Aimee showed signs of distress – high-pitched crying, struggling to feed and jaundice. Aimee was allowed to go home.
Aimee’s condition worsened. By the fourth day, she was limp and lifeless in her mother’s arms. She was rushed to hospital where she was whisked off for blood tests and a lumbar puncture. Aimee had developed group B Strep meningitis – she was an extremely poorly baby. After three weeks of intensive care, Aimee was finally allowed home again.
Aimee has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy following her group B Strep meningitis. She can’t stand, walk, talk or sit up. She can only be fed through a tube and can do little for herself. Aimee remains under the care of 14 health professionals – including paediatricians, physios, and a visual impairment team. She will continue to do so for years to come.
Watch Aimee’s video here
Nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for the NHS to inform pregnant women about group B Strep and offer them the GBS-specific ECM test.
It’s time for change.
For more information about the “Why Guess when you can test?” campaign, click here
The “Why guess when you can test?” campaign has already attracted support from TV doctors, Dr Chris Steele MBE and Dr Pixie McKenna, UK and International rugby league player James Roby, Sir Nicholas Soames MP and medical negligence experts at national law firm Irwin Mitchell.