Local MSP Rhoda Grant, Labour has welcomed the news that a trial period to test pregnant women for ‘strep B’ – Group B Streptococcus (GBS) – is to take place.
After a petition was launched to campaign for testing to take place in Scotland, Ada Campbell, North Uist, had asked Rhoda Grant to take up the issue with the Health Secretary in the Scottish Government.
Recently appointed Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has told Rhoda Grant that, based on previous advice from the UK Chief Scientific Advisor, a trial for the test has now been recommended by the Health Technology Assessment commissioning panel with an announcement and contract expected to be announced this autumn.
Ada Campbell whose daughter had a Strep B infection as a young child and ended up with a serious kidney condition, said:
“It is a really nasty bug and having been through this with my daughter I know how dangerous it can be, especially in the case of new born babies.
“A friend in Uist went through this recently with a new born grandchild on the mainland having to be placed in intensive care.
“I do not think babies should be put at risk of contracting this dangerous infection.
“It is good news that there has been movement at last and I do hope that this will lead to lives of children being saved throughout the country.”
Rhoda Grant stressed that more detail was needed about where the trial would be based and how it would be run.
“I’m looking forward to the details of the announcement later this year and do hope that the trial will be in Scotland and rolled out across our region.
“Anything which can save lives and stop the distressing death of a new-born baby has to be welcomed with open arms.”
Replying to Rhoda Grant, Jeane Freeman said:
“On the basis of advice from the Chief Scientific Advisor for the Minister of Health, it was agreed that the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) should commission a UK wide clinical trial to compare universal screening for GBS against usual risk-based care.
“The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) commissioning panel has met to consider applications for this trial and recommended that it is of a suitably high standard to be approved. A further update on this is anticipated in the early autumn with a view to contracting and announcing. The protocol will then appear in the NIHR journals library.”
Group B Streptococcus or ‘strep B’ is one of many bacteria that can be present in people’s bodies. It usually lives harmlessly inside the digestive system and in some women’s reproductive systems.
It is estimated that around one in every four pregnant women have strep B bacteria in their reproductive or digestive system and there is a small risk that it can pass to the baby during childbirth.
Most babies exposed to strep B will be unaffected, but around 1 in every 2,000 babies can become infected. Most babies who become infected will be treated successfully and will make a full recovery, however there is a chance they could die as a result of complications such as meningitis. One in 10 babies born with the infection will die from it.
Further Information: What are the risks of group B streptococcus (GBS) infection during pregnancy?