A GRANDMOTHER who lost her baby granddaughter to Strep B has slammed rising infection rates as “diabolical”.
New figures show that rates of Streptococcus B in newborns is on the rise - despite campaigners demanding health bosses routinely test for the infection to prevent deaths.
Kilwinning gran Jackie Watt - whose 20-day-old granddaughter Lola died from the infection in March 2013, says the figures are “absolutely shocking and diabolical”.
She told the Times: “It is absolutely shocking to me that rates of Strep B are rising and there is a simple way to prevent babies dying or becoming severely disabled and we are not doing it. Diabolical is the only word I can use.”
Since losing Lola, Jackie has spearheaded her own campaign in Holyrood to plead with the Scottish Government to introduce routine testing of Strep B in pregnant women so others don’t suffer the same fate as her family.
If detected before the baby is born women can be tested and the baby’s life saved.
Other countries, including France, Spain, America and Canada do offer routine testing for pregnant women, but in Britain, the test is not readily available which Jackie says is putting more babies at risk than ever.
She said: “If infection rates are rising then obviously the prevention guidelines are not working and something else needs to be done. The only thing I can think of which will actually be effective is to introduce the test. I just can’t understand why the Government won’t when lives will be saved.”
National charity Group B Strep Support has this week supported The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists’ (RCOG) call to update their guidelines to prevent group B Strep infection in newborn babies.
Strep B is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies – causing sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.
On average in the UK, one newborn baby a day develops GBS, one baby a week dies from GBS and one baby a fortnight who survives the infection is left with life-long disabilities.
Evidence shows that for as many as 50 per cent of the mothers whose newborn babies develop group B Strep infection, their only risk factor is undetected group B Strep carriage.
Charity Group B Strep Support say testing is the only way to detect group B Strep carriage, which is not routinely offered in the UK.
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support said: “The current prevention strategy has clearly failed. We welcome the recommendation to update the national guidelines - this needs to be addressed urgently. The latest reports show that the rate of group Strep B infections in newborn babies in the UK has continued to rise in the last decade.
“International best practice in developed countries is offering all women testing for GBS carriage late in pregnancy. Countries that follow this, including the US, Spain and Italy, have reported falls of over 80 per cent.
“We should be looking at the policy and practices in these and other countries where rates have fallen and their experience should inform the revisions to the RCOG guidelines."