A step closer to routine testing for risky Group B Strep

15 May 2019

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a normal bacterium carried by 25 % of women, in the vagina, usually without symptoms and side effects. If undiagnosed there is a chance it could be passed to the baby.

Most babies will fully recover with treatment but GBS can lead to pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. Currently 2 in every 20 babies develops a disability and 1 in every 20 dies.

In the UK, all pregnant women are not routinely offered testing for group B Strep yet the test for detecting group B Strep are widely available privately from £35.

Whilst the RCOG guidelines were modified in 2017 to include any women who goes into labour before 37 weeks and those who have tested positive for GBS in previous pregnancy they did not go as far as recommending routine screening of mothers-to-be.

However, after much campaigning screening for GBS is to be offered at 80 hospitals in England, Wales and Scotland.

The pilot will compare two tests with the current approach of testing only “high risk” pregnant women.

One involves sending the lab a sample 35-37 weeks into pregnancy and the other gives an immediate result at the bedside and could be done when the women is in labour, which in some cases maybe too late to administer antibiotics.

Some may argue that this has not gone far enough but hopefully the results of the pilot may lead to changes in the RCOG guidelines on testing for the future thus protecting more babies and reducing the cases of avoidable serious birth injury.

Lynne Ainsworth is a Clinical Negligence Law Society accredited solicitor with nearly 20 years fighting on behalf of those injured by clinical negligence and specialises in birth injuries.

The Clinical Negligence and Catastrophic Injury Team at Curtis Law is led by Jerard Knott, Senior Associate Solicitor, an APIL Accredited Senior Litigator and Clinical Negligence Specialist. It also includes Lynne Ainsworth, a Law Society Accredited Clinical Negligence Panel Member. We are committed to promoting Patient Safety. The team only acts for Claimants and is dedicated to providing a client care centered high level of service, providing the best possible advice and maximising damages. The department acts on a large number of fatal (including representation at Inquests) and high value cases. The department regularly advises on cases with valuation exceeding £1,000,000. We can be contacted on 01254 297130 or MedNeg@curtislaw.co.uk.

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