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Colchester campaigner says new Group B Streptococcal guidelines will ‘undoubtedly save babies’ lives’

PUBLISHED: 12:59 21 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:32 21 September 2017

Su Newton with children Emily and William. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Su Newton with children Emily and William. Picture: SU ANDERSON

A Colchester mother whose baby almost died after contracting Group B Streptococcal (GBS) at birth has welcomed new guidelines for health professionals that aim to protect newborns from the infection.

Emily Newton in Addenbrooke's Hospital after contracting GBS at birth. Picture: FAMILY CONTRIBUTEDEmily Newton in Addenbrooke's Hospital after contracting GBS at birth. Picture: FAMILY CONTRIBUTED

Su Newton, of Worsdell Way, said the fresh advice issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) will “undoubtedly save babies’ lives”.

The 47-year-old did not know she carried GBS until it was passed on to her daughter Emily during labour in 2009.

The tot went on to develop septicaemia and spent the first couple of weeks of her life in intensive care, but fortunately made a full recovery and is now a healthy seven-year-old.

Mrs Newton has been campaigning for greater measures to protect infants from the illness ever since and is a volunteer ambassador for charity Group B Strep Support.

This month RCOG has updated its guidance for obstetricians, midwives and neonatologists, which says all pregnant women should be offered an information leaflet about GBS, and mothers who go into labour early should be offered intravenous antibiotics to protect their baby from the infection.

Mrs Newton, who also has a 11-year-old son, William, said the new leaflet would be the most important development.

She said: “It will undoubtedly save babies’ lives because women who have never heard of GBS will now be empowered and informed to ask questions.”

However, Mrs Newton said she was “disappointed” the advice did not go as far as to recommend universal screening for all pregnant women.

“If the NHS screened it would cost £10 per baby,” she added.

“There’s babies who suffer long term illness because of GBS infection and the cost of care would run into hundreds of thousands.

“Emily was one of the lucky ones. Although it was extremely traumatic she made a full recovery and I realise not every baby will be as lucky.”

Home GBS testing kits are available for purchase.

Vice president of education for the RCOG, Professor Janice Rymer, said the guidelines would ensure all health providers follow the same procedures when treating pregnant women with GBS and would also raise awareness of the condition among expectant parents.

Jane Plumb, chief executive of Group B Strep Support, said: “When fully implemented across the UK, we believe this change will make a real difference and we will see the rate of infections start to fall.”

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