Colchester mum urges people to push for routine Group B Strep screening

Su Newton with daughter Emily and son William.

Su Newton with daughter Emily and son William. - Credit: Su Anderson

A Colchester mum whose baby almost died at birth after contracting an infection is urging people to sign a petition calling on the NHS to introduce routine screening for the illness.

Su Newton’s daughter Emily, born in 2009, contracted Group B Strep (GBS) resulting in septicaemia.

Fortunately after spending the first weeks of her life on a ventilator Emily overcame the illness and is now a healthy five-year-old at Queen Boudica Primary School, Colchester.

GBS is an infection found in one-third of men and women, which is usually harmless, but if transferred to a baby during birth can lead to fatal illnesses including meningitis.

However there is no routine screening in expectant mums, with testing only done if there has been a previous incidence of the infection. If detected the transfer of the infection can be prevented with antibiotics administered during labour.

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Mrs Newton, who is an ambassador for the Group B Strep Support charity, is using the organisation’s July awareness month to encourage people to add their name to an online petition to introduce routine testing.

Mrs Newton said: “As well as signing the petition, I would also urge any pregnant women to seek advice and, if their health professionals are unable or unwilling to provide them with reliable screening, to purchase their own test privately.

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“Unfortunately, I was oblivious to the fact that I carried the bacteria, I wasn’t aware of the potential consequences and as a result Emily nearly died. Whilst I have a lot to thank the NHS for as they ultimately saved Emily’s life, I am upset it is because of the lack of screening and ante-natal information about GBS that Emily was put in that position.”

To sign the petition visit the website.

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