Bereaved parents, Fiona Paddon and Scott Bramley, will deliver a Change.org petition of over 250,000 signatures to the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall, on Monday 23rd January 2017 at 11am.
Their petition calls on Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, the Chief Medical Officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies and the Chief Executive of Public Health England, Dr Duncan Selbie to ensure sensitive testing for group B Streptococcus (GBS or Strep B) carriage is routinely and freely available for all pregnant women in the UK.
Routinely offering these tests could prevent over 80% of GBS infections in newborn babies born to women carrying the bacteria, and would cost just £11 per test.
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.
On average in the UK;
One baby a day develops group B Strep infection
One baby a week dies from group B Strep infection
One baby a fortnight survives group B Strep infection but is left with long-term disabilities
Yet, unlike most other developed countries, health professionals in the UK rarely tell pregnant women about GBS and only rarely offer sensitive testing.
Jane Plumb MBE, CEO of national charity Group B Strep Support, Matthew Pennycook MP (Fiona and Scott’s MP) and Sir Nicholas Soames MP (Patron of Group B Strep Support) plus families affected by group B Strep, will join Fiona and Scott to deliver the petition.
Fiona Paddon gave birth to her son Edward after a gruelling 34 hour labour, followed by an emergency C-section under general anaesthetic.
Coming to from the general anaesthetic, Fiona’s nightmare continued – she was told that Edward had been born very sick with a group B Strep infection; he had been pale, floppy and unresponsive. The doctors had transferred him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for cooling treatment, as he had brain damage from a lack of oxygen to his brain.
Following this treatment, Fiona and Scott waited anxiously for the results of an MRI scan of his brain. Sadly, this confirmed their worst fears – Edward’s brain had suffered so much damage that he could not breathe on his own. There was no chance of recovery.
Fiona and Scott took the heart-breaking decision to turn off Edward’s ventilator. He passed away 12 hours later, at just nine days old. Edward is Fiona and Scott’s first and only child.
Had Fiona been tested for group B Strep during pregnancy and offered antibiotics in labour, it’s almost certain Edward would be alive and well today.
Fiona Paddon says: “It's almost impossible to think that your baby will die and to be told that I could have been tested, and then successfully treated, for the very thing that killed Edward is almost too much to bear"
“If I had been tested, I would've been given antibiotics in labour which almost always prevent tragedies like ours.”
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive of Group B Strep Support adds, “Every year, more babies are suffering avoidable group B Strep infections – typically sepsis and meningitis. Most of these infections are preventable and in other countries would be prevented. The UK needs to act now to protect newborn babies from these devastating infections. Pregnant women should be given information about group B Strep, and offered the opportunity to be tested. When that happens, we will see the number of families suffering the appalling effects of avoidable group B Strep infection in their babies fall dramatically.”
National charity Group B Strep Support campaigns for greater awareness of group B Strep in new and expectant parents and wants every pregnant woman in the UK to be given accurate information about group B Strep as a routine part of antenatal care, coupled with the offer of testing for group B Strep carriage at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy.
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