One of my aims with this blog is to raise awareness of stillbirth, baby loss and anything connected to it. Since launching myself on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I have learnt about a charity called Group B Strep Support and their ‘Why Guess’ campaign. July is Group Strep B awareness month which is possibly why I have heard so much about it. So whilst we are still in July (just) I wanted to pass on the information I have learnt to you all (another example of me devouring information on a website!), and hopefully engage your support.
In a nutshell, Group B Streptococcus is a normally occurring bacterium which is usually harmless and can be found in around 20-30% of people. However it can be passed from mother to baby around birth, and for those babies that develop Group B Strep infection it is potentially life-threatening.
Here come the numbers:
- Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing septicaemia, pneumonia and meningitis
- Every week in the UK, one baby dies from group B infection
- Every fortnight in the UK, one survivor is left with long term mental or physical disabilities
Whilst many developed countries routinely offer pregnant women testing for Group B Strep, it is not offered in the UK. According to the charity, the test would cost £11 and if Group B Strep is detected, then it can be treated with penicillin. £11? I mean that’s not expensive is it? You can buy an 8 piece KFC bargain bucket for £10.99 (not sure why I used KFC as an example, I hate it!).
So you might be thinking, hmmm, one baby dies a week, that’s actually just 52 babies a year. Compare that with the 700,000+ babies born each year. Maybe that is why the test is not justified (I don’t know .. I am just speculating!). And although the test may seem cheap to us – £11, when you multiply it for every pregnant women that comes to well over £7 million a year. Now I’m not Jeremy Hunt (and I’m extremely glad I’m not – that guy is one seriously unpopular Health Secretary dude) and I don’t have the NHS purse strings. I don’t know exactly how much everything costs …. although I am guessing that they have one seriously LARGE budget. I do have friends who work for the NHS (and work bloody hard too) and they tell me how frustrated they can get with the money and time which is wasted.
And what I do know is this. I know the pain of losing a baby. I know the pain of having your dreams shattered in a heartbeat. I know how it feels when all the excitement of a newborn comes crashing down around you. I know that if Ewan had died because of an infection which could have easily tested and easily treated ……………. Actually that I don’t know. I can only imagine. Disbelief, horror, frustration, anger. Along with all the other awful feelings that bereavement brings.
So for that reason, I signed the petition asking for the NHS to routinely provide tests to pregnant women to prevent any more avoidable deaths. If you agree with me, then please do the same.
At the time of writing, there are over £190,000 signatures. Wouldn’t it be amazing to help push this up to their target of 200,000?
All the Group B Strep information has come from the GBS Support website if you want to read more. You can follow them on Twitter @GBSSupport and on Facebook
I think this is a really worthy campaign. I hope you do too. If you do sign the petition, I’d be really interested to know – leave a comment below, or on Facebook/Twitter.
And just a final thought for all the angels who have been taken, and the families who have been affected. My heart goes out to you all. Much love.