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Shropshire baby tragedy: Campaigner wants routine screening against deadly Group B Strep infection

Telford | News | Published:

A Shropshire campaigner fighting for screening against the group B strep infection, which left her son disabled, says the fight goes on.

Reverend Charlotte Cheshire has long been fighting for better education for mothers and routine screening against the infection.

Following the outcome into the death of Shropshire baby Pippa Griffiths, she said that campaigners will continue to fight for more protection against the deadly problem.

Mrs Cheshire's son Adam was born on March 25, 2011, but just eight hours later he was fighting for his life, infected by group B strep, the most common cause of life-threatening illness in newborn babies in the UK.

Adam survived the infection but, now six years old, he has been left profoundly disabled – hearing and visually impaired, autistic, asthmatic and developmentally delayed.

Group B Strep is the UK's most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia.

Carried normally by one in every four women, the group B strep bacteria can pass from a pregnant woman to her baby around birth with potentially devastating consequences for the baby.

Mrs Cheshire, the curate at St Andrew's Church in Shifnal, went to the House of Commons in January withsent a petition signed by 250,000 calling for to ensure testing for Group B Streptococcus to beis routinely and freely available for all pregnant women in the UK.

But she said she, and other campaigners who work closely with Group B Strep Support have just been informed that no action will be taken to introduce routine screening.

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The 39-year-old, from Lawley, said: "The simple fact is group B strep is wholly preventable.

"If women were offered the gold standard, swabs at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy, antibiotics during labour, antibiotics to the baby if labour is less than four hours, infection rates would drop dramatically. It makes no logical sense not to introduce it.

"Countries that have introduced it have seen infection rates drop by 85 per cent.

"My son has cost the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds and will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

"Any concerns about costs are vastly outweighed by the costs to families of children who survive and the emotional cost to families who lose their children."

"The government have made numerous pledges to reduce the amount of still births, but they also refuse to take action against one of the most serious causes of illness in newborns."

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