Raising awareness of Group B Streptococcus

by Andy Osborne on

Joanne Green, a mother from Urmston, has recently been raising awareness regarding the infection of Group B Streptococcus, which cost the lives of her unborn twins who tragically were stillborn at 36 weeks.

The NHS Direct website says that “... Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is one of many bacteria that can be present in our bodies. It usually causes no harm. This situation is called "carrying" GBS or being colonised with GBS. It’s estimated that about one pregnant woman in five in the UK carries GBS in their digestive system or their vagina. Around the time of labour and birth, many babies come into contact with GBS and are colonised by the bacteria....”

However, in a small percentage of cases GBS can result in miscarriage or stillbirth. This is what happened in the case of Joanne Green.

Joanne was never tested for GBS, therefore precautions were not made nor could contingencies be put in place. One of Joanne’s twins contracted GBS and because the twins were identical and sharing the same placenta both died.

Their death could have however been prevented, if Joanne had been tested for GBS a procedure that can cost as little as £10, but Britain is one of the few developed countries that does not screen for the infection. Joanne believes it was the lack of information and screening of the NHS that resulted in the death of her twins, and is now trying to raise awareness through a petition trying to prevent GBS infection in new born babies.

Tragically in this case the babies were stillborn but in cases where the infected babies survive they are at risk of serious complications such as septicaemia, pneumonia or meningitis. It is estimated that 1 in 10 of these babies will die and 1 in 5 will be permanently affected (with such problems as cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness and serious learning difficulties).

The action to ensure that women are made aware of the risks and testing offered is supported by Didsbury-based celebrity doctor Chris Steele MBE who said: “The government should act now to ensure women get the very best advice and support during their pregnancy.

“This should include information on the serious nature of the infection, the offer of testing, followed by appropriate antibiotics during labour to protect the baby from infection.”

Joanne’s plight to raise awareness continues.

By clinical negligence specialist, Anne Marie Cassidy

 


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