How many of you have heard about Group B Strep?
I’ll be honest I didn’t know about it until I was 27 weeks pregnant. I only discovered I had it because I was having contractions, and went to the hospital in the early hours of the morning. The midwife performed an internal swab, she wanted to test for the labour hormone (Fetal fibronectin-fFN) which suggests an early labour is imminent. Mine, unfortunately, came back positive along with a positive result for Group B strep.
They kept me in for 3 days, where I received steroid injections to help mature my unborn babies’ lungs should I go into labour. I also did a urine test which also came back positive for Group B Strep. It wasn’t until this moment that I was handed a leaflet about Group B Step. No one came to sit down with me and explain what this actually meant. I was just left on my bed, in an empty bay in hospital on my own, with a pretty scary leaflet stating facts and statistics, and words popping out at me like ‘fatal’ ‘meningitis’ and ‘death’.
However, it wasn’t until I was discharged from hospital and spoke to a few relatives and friends, it turned out I was not alone. So many pregnant mothers are not aware of this infection. It was never mentioned to me during my 27 weeks, by my friends, midwife, GP, or antenatal classes.
Many babies die from this infection and it is usually preventable.
Group B strep is a bacteria that lives harmlessly on and in us. 1 in 4 women carry it in their vaginas, and a third in their rectums. When the baby passes down the birth canal the baby picks up the bacteria, and then the infection process starts and it is quick.
GBSS State – “In newborn babies, there are two types of GBS disease: early and late-onset. Roughly two-thirds of GBS disease is early-onset, occurring in the first 6 days of life and usually apparent at birth. Early-onset GBS disease is normally characterised by the rapid development of breathing problems, associated with blood poisoning. Late-onset disease – which usually presents as GBS meningitis – occurs after the baby is 6 days old and, normally, by age 1 month but, rarely, up to age 3 months. After age 3 months, GBS infection in babies is extremely rare.”
Many other countries offer pregnant women a simple test between 35-37 weeks of pregnancy. If the result is positive, the mother will be offered antibiotics during labour to prevent the infection being passed to their babies.
Our NHS will not provide this test routinely. You can pay privately to have the test done at a cost of £35 approximately. Women only know about this if they have heard about Group B Strep, or know someone who has heard of it/experienced it.
Raising Awareness is vital.
No baby should suffer, from something that is so often preventable. Every expectant mother should know about GBS.
For more information, please visit www.gbss.org.uk
Let’s raise awareness together
A home-to-laboratory test kit (Strepelle) is available to buy on the high street. The cost is £39.99.
The test is really quick and easy to use and all you do is collect two swab samples. Everything you need is included in the kit and simple step-by-step instructions will guide you. Pop the samples in the Freepost envelope provided and they will be on their way to the laboratory.
You will receive your results within three days of the laboratory receiving the test, this is done by either text, email, or letter depending on your choice.
FEATURED IMAGE: GROUP B STREP SUPPORT AND STREPELLE