Em­ploy ac­tive screen­ing for mothers to pre­vent death

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer jodi-ann.gilpin@glean­erjm.com

DR CHARLES Rock­head, ob­ste­tri­cian/gy­nae­col­o­gist, is strongly rec­om­mend­ing that ac­tive screen­ing for all mothers is em­ployed to pre­vent deaths that could re­sult from sep­sis.

Sep­sis is a po­ten­tially deadly con­di­tion that oc­curs when cer­tain bac­te­ria, fungi or par­a­sites at­tack crit­i­cal or­gans in new­borns.

Sources told this news­pa­per that seven ba­bies have died in the past three months from the bac­te­ria, at the is­land’s lead­ing ma­ter­nity hospi­tal, the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal (VJH) in Kingston. There are re­ports, how­ever, that the num­ber of deaths is much higher.

He ex­plained that based on his re­search fol­low­ing the story which was pub­lished in The Sun­day Gleaner, the prob­lem was caused by a type of sep­sis known as Group B Strep­to­coc­cus (GBS). He said that though screen­ing would be costly, it could be a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion go­ing for­ward, but quickly pointed out that it had noth­ing to do with hy­gienic prob­lems at the hospi­tal or with the mothers.

“That would be an epi­demi­ol­ogy is­sue and pol­icy change. When you look at the cost, you will have to be train­ing ev­ery mid­wife, ev­ery in­tern, ev­ery doc­tor that at 37 weeks, you do a high vagi­nal swab. Then there is a cost for the swab, cost for the lab­o­ra­tory. There will be an­tecedent cost which would be the an­tibi­otics,” he said.

“GBS, that is the cause of the prob­lem that they (VJH) are hav­ing. The is­sue with GBS is not that it is caused from poor ma­ter­nity care in the sense that the bac­te­ria lives in the vagina of some women,” he con­tin­ued.

He said once con­sis­tent treat­ment is ap­plied, there could be a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the early on­set of GBS.

“The GBS colonises the vagina or the gen­i­tal tract in some women, if you don’t screen for it. When the baby passes through the gen­i­tal tract of the women, it then picks up the bac­te­ria,” he told The Gleaner.

“The new­born is rel­a­tively im­muno-com­pro­mised and has not been ex­posed to any bac­te­ria while in the noc­tur­nal uterus, that’s where the sep­sis comes from in th­ese neonates. It’s very im­por­tant that we do ac­tive screen­ing for mothers,” he charged.

“The vagina to the anus is about an inch so it’s not a mat­ter of poor hy­giene on the mother or poor hy­giene at the hospi­tal, that’s not the is­sue,” said Rock­head.


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