ASK THE EX­PERT

SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT STREP B?

Uxbridge Gazette - - Family Health -

AS July is Group B Strep Aware­ness Month, this is how mums-to-be can find out if they are a car­rier.

Q

I’M preg­nant and have heard some scary sto­ries about group B strep. What is it and how can I avoid my baby get­ting it?

A

JANE PLUMB, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Group B Strep Sup­port, says: “Group B strep can sound scary, but you can take steps to pro­tect your baby.

“Group B strep­to­coc­cus (group B strep or strep B) is a com­mon bac­terium. In women, it’s of­ten found in the vagina and usu­ally causes no harm.

“Al­though it’s per­fectly nor­mal, group B strep causes se­ri­ous in­fec­tion in about 800 ba­bies in the UK ev­ery year – typ­i­cally sep­sis, pneu­mo­nia and menin­gi­tis dur­ing their first three months. Without ur­gent an­tibi­otics, these in­fec­tions can be life-threat­en­ing.

“The good news is that most group B strep in­fec­tion in new­born ba­bies can be prevented. Giv­ing in­tra­venous an­tibi­otics – ide­ally peni­cillin – from the start of labour to women car­ry­ing group B strep re­duces the risk by 85-90%.

“Most de­vel­oped coun­tries of­fer preg­nant women test­ing and an­tibi­otics are of­fered in labour.

“In the UK, there’s no uni­ver­sal screen­ing pro­gramme, and the an­tibi­otics are of­fered when any of the fol­low­ing risk fac­tors arise: If you’ve pre­vi­ously had a baby who had GBS in­fec­tion; if GBS has been de­tected from any tests taken dur­ing the cur­rent or pre­vi­ous preg­nancy; if your labour starts be­fore 37 weeks; or if you have a tem­per­a­ture of more than 38°C dur­ing labour.

“If group B strep was de­tected in the pre­vi­ous preg­nancy, a woman should be of­fered the op­tion of test­ing in her next preg­nancy, with an­tibi­otics of­fered if the re­sult is pos­i­tive. This was a rec­om­men­da­tion in 2017 and is not yet of­fered at all ma­ter­nity units.

“If you don’t qual­ify for a GBS test or your lo­cal ma­ter­nity unit isn’t able to of­fer the test (the ECM or en­riched cul­ture medium test), then these tests are avail­able pri­vately from £35 for a home-test­ing pack. We main­tain a list of ECM test sup­pli­ers.”

FOR more in­for­ma­tion ask your mid­wife for the new leaflet writ­ten by Group B Strep Sup­port and the Royal Col­lege of Ob­ste­tri­cians & Gy­nae­col­o­gists.

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