Group B Strep: Awareness Month

09 July 2017


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Written by CoMO member,

Group B Strep Support

  

 

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month. Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK, and the most common cause of meningitis in babies under age 3 months[1]. And the number of these infections are rising. Currently:

  • 2 babies a day develop group B Strep infection
  • 1 baby a week dies from group B Strep infection
  • 1 baby a week recovers from group B Strep infection with disability

Shockingly, between 2000[2]  and 2014[3] there has been an increase of more than 50% in babies developing group B Strep infection in the UK and Republic of Ireland. And, while fewer babies have died from their group B Strep infection, more survivors have disability at discharge[i].

July is Group B Strep Awareness Month and charity Group B Strep Support is asking everyone to raise awareness during the month, using the hashtag #GBSaware.

 

“Knowing about Group B Strep when you’re pregnant and in the early weeks after birth can make a massive difference – most group B Strep infections in newborn babies can be prevented, and early treatment can and does save lives.” - Jane Plumb MBE, GBSS Chief Executive

 

There have been significant steps made in recent years to improve the prevention of group B Strep infection in babies in the UK. Highlights include:

  • Nearly half of all pregnant women and new mums have now heard of group B Strep, and much more information is being routinely given to pregnant mums about group B Strep[4]
  • National guidelines have been published in the UK on preventing group B Strep infection in newborn babies
  • ‘Gold Standard’ ECM testing is now widely available privately, and increasingly from NHS trusts[5]

This is great progress, but more is needed if the rising incidence of these often-preventable infections is to be reversed.

There is no doubt that, by identifying which babies are at raised risk of developing group B Strep infection and giving their mums targeted intravenous antibiotics in labour, tiny lives will be saved. There is also no doubt that early treatment of babies who develop group B Strep infection results in better outcomes for those babies, so knowing the signs to watch for – and act upon – is vital.

This Group B Strep Awareness Month, let’s all work together to raise greater awareness and create more knowledge about group B Strep so that fewer babies are affected by these horrid infections.

Tell everyone about group B Strep, using the hashtag #GBSaware.

Tell new and expectant parents to find out about group B Strep from their midwives, doctors or Group B Strep Support (www.gbss.org.uk– knowing about group B Strep and in particular knowing the risk factors and symptoms for GBS infection in babies, will save lives.

 

[1] RCOG Greentop Guideline 36 Group B Strep Disease https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg36/ accessed 12/06/2017

[2] Group B streptococcal disease in UK and Irish infants younger than 90 days. Lancet 2004 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14751704 accessed 12/06/2017

[3] BPSU Annual Report 2015-2016 pp 10-12 http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/system/files/protected/page/BPSU_AR1516_Web_0.pdf  accessed 12/06/2017

[4] 2017 peer review draft update of RCOG guidelines (due to be published Summer 2017) recommends pregnant women to be given information on group B Strep

[5] 2017 peer review draft update of RCOG guidelines  (due to be published Summer 2017) recommends ECM testing to be offered to selected women

[i] Group B streptococcal disease in infants . Heath P. BPSU Annual Report 2015-2016. (2016). London: British Paediatric Surveillance Unit, pp.10-12. 

  

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Group B Strep SupportGroup B Strep Support has been an Associate member of CoMO since March 2016. GBSS supports families affected by group B Strep and their health professionals by providing relevant, evidence-based information and education about Strep B.