Unlike many developed countries routine antenatal screening for Group B Strep is not recommended by the UK National Screening Committee, however the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians recommend that all women should be made aware of GBS and the risks it carries.
Testing is important as steps can be taken to reduce the risk of GBS passing onto a newborn baby. If a pregnant woman tests positive for GBS she can receive intravenous antibiotic treatment in labour which will significantly reduce the risk. If she decides against antibiotic treatment care providers can observe and monitor her baby for 12-24 hours for any GBS infection signs and symptoms.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common natural and normal bacterium which colonises 20-30% of men and women. GBS is not an STD and it does not carry any symptoms or side effects and so the only way you will know you have it is to test for it. GBS is found in the intestines as part of your normal gut flora, it can also be found in the vagina where it lives without causing any harm. Although it is a natural bacterium if a woman is a GBS carrier during pregnancy there is a 1 in 300 chance that it can be passed to her baby during labour which could potentially lead to a Group B Strep infection.
In the UK 1 baby dies from GBS infection every week, and 1 baby a week will survive with long term mental and physical problems such as cerebral palsy. Testing for GBS can save lives.
Strepelle is an accurate Group B streptococcus home to laboratory test which is specifically designed to detect GBS carriage. It uses the ‘Gold standard’ Enriched Culture Method (ECM) recommended by Public Health England. Women are advised to test from 35-37 weeks as research has shown that when an ECM test is performed in the last 5 week of pregnancy it can give a high prediction of whether GBS will be present at birth.
Working with numerous grieving mothers who have lost their baby to GBS infection it is heart breaking, when most of these deaths could have been avoided from taking a simple test. The trouble is that GBS awareness is low, many women are unaware of what GBS is, which is concerning knowing the risks which are associated with carrying GBS.
Health practitioners should educate women about GBS which will allow them to make an informed decision. Strepelle’s aim is to help women have a healthy baby by testing for Group B Strep.
Dr Leanna Beckford, Consultant Midwife