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All expectant mothers should be tested for killer GBS bacteria, activists say 

All expectant mothers should be tested for killer Group B Streptococcus bacteria that can be passed from mum to baby during labour, say charities 

  • Campaigners say testing pregnant women for killer bacteria would pay for itself
  • About 35 infants a year die after becoming infected with Group B Streptococcus 
  • The Government’s UK National Screening Committee last year rejected a programme to swab all pregnant women for GBS and give antibiotics to those who tested positive

Campaigners say testing pregnant women for a bacteria that kills dozens of babies a year would easily pay for itself by saving the NHS a fortune in compensation.

About 35 infants die every year after becoming infected with Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a common bacteria that can be passed from mother to child in labour.

A further 25 are left with serious disabilities including brain damage, sometimes resulting in compensation payouts of over £10 million.

The NHS gives antibiotics to pregnant women deemed at high risk of having GBS, but critics say many are missed. The Health Department said it was investigating trialling universal screening for GBS [File photo]

The Government’s UK National Screening Committee last year rejected a programme to swab all pregnant women for GBS and give antibiotics to those who tested positive on the grounds it was not ‘cost-effective’. 

But the charity Group B Strep Support and lawyers say the committee failed to assess the cost to the NHS of legal fees and compensation.

The lawyers believe that avoiding just one or two tragedies each year would save more than the cost of the tests. 

Alison Eddy, head of medical negligence at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘It’s hard to imagine GBS cases are costing the NHS less than £10 million in compensation and legal fees a year.’

A GBS swab would cost about £11, resulting in a total cost of about £8 million a year. 

Around a fifth of those tested would require antibiotics, something about which the screening committee is concerned.

Martha Rudd, ten, was left severely brain-damaged after doctors at Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford failed to detect GBS infection at birth. In 2016, the High Court awarded her parents a seven-figure sum to pay for her care.

About 35 infants die every year after becoming infected with Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a common bacteria that can be passed from mother to child in labour [File photo]

‘GBS has had a huge effect on Martha and our family, which could have been prevented if there had been routine screening in place,’ said her father, Adam, 40.

The NHS gives antibiotics to pregnant women deemed at high risk of having GBS, but critics say many are missed.

The Health Department said it was investigating trialling universal screening for GBS. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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