Raising Awareness for GBS

Since becoming pregnant nearly eight months ago, I have worried about every single thing under the sun as I am sure every other pregnant woman out there has done. A pregnant woman seems to quickly become a public possession, even those planning on getting pregnant are soon inundated with advice from those in the seasoned motherhood club. It seems that as soon as you mention the ‘P’ word (either pregnant OR pregnancy), you have herds of people offering advice and soon you will find yourself fighting to make yourself heard, at least that is what I have experienced at times.

Your body is no longer your own. Not only do you have someone growing inside you (my midwives have described pregnancy as having a parasite growing inside you) but your body becomes public property for the medical profession, personally I am more or less prodded and poked at least two times a week by either midwives, GPs, Consultants or Haematologists.

Prior to my first ante-natal appointment, I mistakenly thought I would be inundated with information and advice but it was the complete opposite and the information I have obtained has been through books, television programmes or family and friends including information on the flu and whooping-cough vaccine. I found out about another simple test that could potentially save the life of my baby through  a chance sighting of a pregnancy magazine – one I do not normally buy.

Apparently this test is  not routinely available on the NHS and neither will a midwife raise awareness of it, however apparently a quarter of women are unknowingly but  harmlessly carrying the bug called Group B Streptococcus which is a virus associated with sore throats and is passed to babies either just before or during labour and which is also widely recognised as the most common cause of life threatening infections in new born babies.  To put it bluntly GBS can kill. Pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) are all complications of GBS thereby raising the danger level even higher.

To find out if you are a carrier, you can contact the Doctors Laboratory and they will send you a swab test pack for £35 which can be done in the comfort of your own home during 35-37 weeks of pregnancy. I called them on the number provided on the website and received the pack within a day or two. I did not need to pay the money until I send the pack for testing.  Apparently the method used by the NHS is less reliable than the one offered by the laboratory and has been known to give a false negative result. (In my opinion it doesn’t particularly matter how much the test costs if it could potentially save my baby’s life).

If you discover that you are a carrier you can then request intravenous antibiotics during labour and the baby’s chance of developing GBS will fall from 1 in 300 to less than 1 in 5,000. (More information can be found on www.gbss.org.uk). Group B Strep Support have set up a petition to make GBS testing routinely available on the NHS. Unfortunately the petition closed in August, however the charity is currently awaiting a response from the Department of Health on whether such testing will be routinely available for expectant mothers.

Whether the petition is passed or not, at least I can say: I’m now GBS aware and I hope you are too.

First image: Mumsnet.com
Final image: DotBabies

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rubyslippers
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 20:14:41

    I was GBS aware over five years ago and did the exact same test that you have. I initially thought it was a money making, scare mongering scheme but actually it’s not. It is an important test and surprisingly not widely discussed. Glad you have done it though! Well done! X


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