Stanningfield: Mum’s bid to raise awareness of potentially deadly infection
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A west Suffolk mum, who nearly lost her baby daughter just hours after giving birth, is backing calls for routine testing for a potentially deadly infection.
Ame Edmonds’ delight at seeing her newborn daughter Lilee turned into panic as the infant’s cries became high-pitched and she turned blue.
The 22-year-old, from Stanningfield near Bury St Edmunds, recalled: “Although she is my first baby, everything within my body was telling me that something was gravely wrong with my beautiful daughter.
“I became more and more distressed but no-one was listening; I then started to scream for a doctor to see her.”
Lilee, who was born at West Suffolk Hospital in October 2010, had in fact contracted Group B Streptococcus, known as Group B Strep or GBS. From this, she also developed life-threatening meningitis and sepsis caused by the GBS bacterium, which is carried by one in four pregnant women and is passed to babies during labour and birth.
Although it is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK, the NHS does not routinely offer pregnant women testing for Group B Strep.
Had Ame been tested at between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy – as is routine in many developed countries – the bacterium would very likely have been detected and a simple course of antibiotics administered during labour would have minimised the risk of infection in Lilee.
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Ame continued: “I had no idea that I carried GBS and the news that Lilee had contracted this devastating infection from me, and it could have been so easily prevented, filled me with guilt.
“There is nothing in this world that can help prepare you for the fear and pain of seeing your baby so ill. Her life was in the balance,”
Along with the charity, Group B Strep Support, which is dedicated to the prevention of GBS infection in newborn babies, Ame is keen to campaign for better awareness and the introduction of routine testing.
The charity’s chief executive, Jane Plumb, said: “Repeatedly, we hear from families that warning or early signs of infection in their babies were missed. Not only is a better prevention strategy needed, we also need to ensure that all relevant health professionals are fully informed about the key signs and symptoms of infection in newborn babies.”
Lilee, now aged three-and-a-half, has continued to have regular check-ups to detect underlying problems and has suffered from a low immune system, resulting in a number of infections.