I am backing Group B Strep Awareness Month to help cut life-threatening infection in newborn babies.
Every pregnant woman should be informed about group B Strep, which is a normal bacterium carried by around one in five adults, usually with no symptoms or side-effects.
However, Group B Strep, also known as Strep B or GBS, can cause infections when the bacteria are transmitted to the baby around labour.
These infections can be very serious and can cause conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis. If left untreated, a GBS infection can kill a newborn baby within hours.
On average, two babies each day in the UK develop a GBS infection and each week, one baby dies from a GBS infection and another is left with a life limiting disability.
The charity Group B Strep Support is offering free copies of its new information leaflet on the disease to all NHS maternity units. It wants all pregnant women to be offered a copy so that they are aware of when a baby is at increased risk of GBS infection, and how to reduce that risk.
A test is available between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy to see if a woman is carrying GBS, but it is usually only offered to women who carried GBS in a previous pregnancy.
Thankfully, most group B Strep infections in newborn babies can be prevented, and early treatment can and does save lives.
However, one in every five pregnant women hasn’t heard of Group B Strep and we need initiatives like Group B Strep Awareness Month to get the risks more widely understood.