A KILWINNING gran whose baby granddaughter died from Strep B has welcomed news that more than half of the UK’s maternity units are now testing pregnant women for the deadly virus - against national recommendations.
Jackie Watt lost her 21-day-old granddaughter Lola in March 2013 after she contracting a fatal strain of Streptococcus B bacteria shortly after she was born, leaving her parents Nicole Brown and Chris Young devastated.
Since then Jackie been campaigning to the Scottish Government to have all pregnant women tested for the virus.
Currently the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) does not support universal antenatal screening for group B Strep carriage.
Instead, a risk-based approach has been in place since 2003 which recommends giving women antibiotics in labour against the infection but only when a woman has previously had a baby with group B Strep, if it has been detected during the woman’s current pregnancy or the woman has a fever or symptoms of inflammation of the membranes in labour.
Despite this it has been found that 55.9 per cent of obstetric units are offering testing to some or all pregnant women for group B Strep carriage, with 76 per cent of these units doing so at the mother’s request.
Jackie said she is thrilled that half of all maternity units are testing women.
She said: “This is amazing news. Finally common sense has prevailed. Now we just need to work so the other half follow suit and eventually the government make it standard procedure.” After Lola’s tragic death mum Nicole was devastated when doctors told her she had been carrying the infection whilst pregnant and passed it on to her baby girl during her labour.
But since then medics have admitted that Lola had actually suffered from late onset Strep B - meaning she had contracted it in the days after her birth, not during the labour.
The bacteria, group B Strep, is the UK’s most common cause of severe infections in newborn and of meningitis in babies in the first three months of their lives, sometimes leading to death and disability.
With correct screening, most group B Strep infections can be prevented if antibiotics, usually penicillin are given in labour to women who have been found to carry the bacteria.
Jane Plumb MBE, chief executive of national charity Group B Strep Support has also welcomed the findings.
She said: “Obstetricians and midwives recognise the usefulness of testing pregnant women for group B Strep carriage – they know the RCOG’s guidelines have failed to reduce group B Strep infections in newborn babies “The audit reported support for universal screening and shows units are offering testing to pregnant women. Women want it, obstetricians and midwives are already offering it. It’s time the UK’s guidelines caught up.”