Group B Strep: What all mummies to be need to know

Have you heard of Group B Strep?

I am 40 years old

Weeks away from giving birth to my fifth baby

And I had not heard of this until the last few months

My best friend

Had Group B Strep

When she gave birth to her son

Almost 16 years ago

So I must have heard of it

I just wasn’t listening

But now thanks to a vigorous campaign by

Group B Strep Support

GBSS

And thanks to private testing companies

Such as Strepelle

Awareness is being raised

And more women are being tested

But why?

What is it?

What is Group B Strep?

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a normal bacterium which is carried by 20-30% of adults, most commonly in the gut, and for up to 25% of women, in the vagina, usually without symptoms or side-effects.

GBS can occasionally cause infection, most commonly in newborn babies, sometimes in adults and, very rarely, during pregnancy and before labour.

How can Group B Strep Infection affect newborn babies?

There are two types of GBS infection in newborns: early and late-onset.

Early-onset GBS infection is more common (2/3 of cases in babies) and occurs when the baby is up to 6 days old; a key symptom is the rapid development of breathing problems, associated with blood poisoning.

Late-onset GBS infection – usually presenting as GBS meningitis – occurs between age 6 days and 1 month and, more rarely, up to age 3 months. After 3 months’ old, GBS infection in babies is extremely rare.

GBS is recognised to cause preterm delivery, maternal infections, stillbirths and late miscarriages; and preterm babies are known to be at particular risk of GBS infection as their immune systems are not as well developed.

Overall, approximately one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK develops group B Strep infection.

On average in the UK, at least

two babies a day develop a group B Strep infection
one baby a week dies from their GBS infection, and
one baby a week survives with long-term disabilities – physical, mental or both.

How can I get tested?

In the UK routine antenatal testing is currently not offered by the NHS. This is in sharp contrast to many other developed countries who provide GBS screening to all pregnant women.

Health services in the UK rely upon a ‘risk factor’ system to determine which newborns are more likely to be at-risk of developing GBS infection. The system looks at factors such as high temperature during labour, labour starting preterm or waters breaking early. Intravenous antibiotics given in labour to women carrying GBS have been proven to dramatically reduce the risk. This ‘risk factor’ system could be significantly improved upon as the rate of GBS infections in babies is not going down.

Strepelle can change this, it is an accurate and easy to use home to laboratory test for use from 35 weeks onwards into pregnancy. The test allows you to take control of your unborn baby’s future health.

strepelle

How does the test work?

Strepelle very kindly offered to send me a home testing kit

After seeing me share lots of tweets about GBS over the past weeks and months

It has really worried me that this is something all pregnant women should be aware of

But until very recently it has not been something on my radar at all

Even though I have had preterm babies

And lost a baby in infancy

Once I was made aware

I knew that I wanted to be tested

Before giving birth to our fifth and final baby

Strepelle provides a home testing kit

That is easy to use

And offers fast results direct from the laboratory

To your email inbox, post box or phone

The test costs around £40

And could save your baby’s life

The test needs to be carried out

After 35 weeks of pregnancy

I tested just before I hit 37 weeks

I would have tested earlier if it had not been for the long Easter weekend

You have to send your test the day that you use it

For the best chance of a true result

You can buy the test direct from Strepelle

Through their website

But what exactly do I do?

What does the test involve?

The test is made up of two swabs

Vaginal and anal

There is a simple form to fill in with your details

Then you take the swabs

Secure them in a test tube filled with special gel for transportation

And free post back to the lab

I was nervous about carrying out the test

And so asked David to help me

We both washed our hands

Followed the written and pictorial instructions

Very carefully

Aiming to keep the swabs sterile

The vaginal swab was easy to do

The anal one was more tricky

More uncomfortable

And I am not very confident that we collected what we needed to

But we did try

One important thing to note

Is that the instructions fail to mention

That there is a second cap on the test tubes

I am guessing that protects the carrier gel

This cap is not mentioned

So we got quite stressed trying to firmly push

The first swab into the first tube

Once we realised about the cap

The remainder of the process went smoothly

But I do wonder if this will have adversely affected our sterile swabs

And so the test result

I am certain that we cannot be the first testers to come across this anomaly

And so am equally certain that Strepelle will be updating their instructional information

The test

With all the paperwork

Took less than 10 minutes

And now we wait 7 days for our results

And whatever the result I will be glad to have taken the test

If I do prove to be a carrier of Group Strep B

Then I can make my midwife and Consultant team aware

So that the appropriate action can be taken

When labour starts and when our baby is born

If you would like anymore information about GBS

Or need any additional support

Please do check out the GBSS website

And follow them on Twitter @GBSSuppport

For more information about the test

You can contact Strepelle through their website

Or on Twitter @Strepelle1

Whatever you do

Be #GBSAware

We were sent one Strepelle Testing Kit for the purpose of this review

6 thoughts on “Group B Strep: What all mummies to be need to know

  1. Group B strep was picked up during my second pregnancy when they did a swab to try & find the reason for random bleeding at 18 & 21 weeks. I was told by my midwife that under no circumstances should I Google it – that’s immediately what I did!! I was a little scared by what I read but figured there wasn’t anything I could do so shouldn’t worry. When my waters broke & I called the hospital I told them about it but they didn’t seem too bothered as I didn’t have enough of the risk factors to warrant the in-labour antibiotics. We mentioned it again when I was in the antenatal room but got the same response. However, when my son was born they whisked him away fairly quickly to check him & then spent the next 12 hours doing 2 hourly obs. Once they were happy that he was fine they were willing to let us go home – he’s now a very healthy, happy 2.5 year old.

  2. Hi what an important subject
    X mine was picked up during early miscarriage and i now know all about it And labour etc
    I been through 5 pregnancies with strength b prevention
    But I need to know to inform hospital and at times speak up
    About my prevention plan
    Aldo I would like to say shout up
    Loud to get test done from doc X shout loud and demand test
    Docs charge £18 but often do it free

  3. I am colonised by GBS and they didn’t swab me in my last two pregnancies until I was actually in labour. Which, considering I have very fast labours, was a bit too late! Thankfully, I didn’t have active infection at either of those times although I have since. It is an unnecessary lottery.
    Soph recently posted..WHAT? AGAIN?My Profile

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