A couple whose baby died shortly after being born because of a relatively unknown infection have welcomed the news that all expectant mothers will now be routinely given information about Group B Streptococcus.
Amanda Barnes and Jason Osborne’s daughter Mia died in January 2014 after contracting septicaemia, believed to be the result of her catching an infection from the Group B Strep bacteria present in her mother.
The couple have campaigned with the Group B Strep Support charity for greater awareness of the infection, with Mr Osborne helping to review the leaflet that will now be handed out to all pregnant women.
The leaflet, which was developed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in collaboration with the charity, outlines how Group B Strep is picked up, what it can mean for a baby and how the risks can be reduced.
Group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies but recent surveys have shown that many pregnant women feel inadequately informed about the illness. On average two babies a day develop the infection, with one a week dying and one a week being left with life-changing disability.
Unlike many other developed countries including Germany and Spain, the UK does not routinely offer tests to pregnant women specifically to check for Group B Strep carriage during late pregnancy.
Although tests are available privately in the UK – costing about £35 – parents are not routinely told they exist.
In the new patient leaflet being given out, expectant parents are directed to the Group B Strep Support’s website, where further information about private tests is given.
As Mia’s family prepares to mark what would have been her fourth birthday tomorrow (Saturday, January 13), Mr Osborne, of Desborough, said this latest development was part of his daughter’s legacy.
He said: “I think this is a monumental step forward. It’s about putting this information in the faces of pregnant women. It’s not about scaring people and trying to get them to part with their money. I think that £35 isn’t much compared to the assurance that the test brings.
“It’s also about how Group B Strep is perceived in midwifery.
“Some midwives are more on the ball about it while others are more of the attitude that it’s nothing to worry about.
“At the time we had Mia, unless you specifically looked for information about Group B Strep, you wouldn’t have seen anything about it.”
The couple have since had another child, Theo, who will be two in February.
Mr Osborne praised Kettering General Hospital for the changes that have been made since Mia’s death, including prominent displays around the maternity unit about Group B Strep.
Mr Osborne said the support charity is now looking to raise £30,000 to help produce and distribute the leaflet and will continue with the campaign for mandatory testing during pregnancy.
To view the new patient leaflet visit www.rcog.org.uk.