The parents of an infant who died aged 3-days-old have called for greater awareness of Group B Streptococcus alongside better testing and treatment for the infection

The parents of a new born baby who died, aged 3 days of age, after catching Group B Streptococcus Septicaemia have called for a number of new measures to be introduced including antenatal testing for Group B Streptococcus (GBS), antibiotics for women at high risk of GBS in labour and the raising of awareness of GBS and infection for pregnant women.

Belinda & James Bowman made the plea during July which is GBS Awareness month organised by Group B Strep Support, the UK’s only specific GBS charity.

GBS is carried by approximately 1 in 4 pregnant women and is the leading cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns; it can also infect babies during pregnancy and the first few months of life.

One in 2000 babies in the UK develop a GBS infection shortly after being born. Sadly around one in 10 of these babies will die. Not all babies exposed to GBS become infected, but for those who do, the results can be devastating.

Belinda & James Bowman had their fourth child Lily at St Peter’s Hospital on 6 May 2013. Mrs Bowman had asked to be tested for GBS during labour but the midwife said that this was unnecessary.

Lily was born and despite concerns over a difficulty with feeding she was discharged home. The next day Lily developed a rash. Despite her parent’s reporting this to St Peter’s Hospital there was a delay in the community midwife attending and recognising the severity of Lily’s symptoms and that Lily needed transfer by ambulance to hospital.

Lily was taken back into hospital, where she was diagnosed with sepsis and meningitis due to GBS. Lily died on 9 May 2013.

Mrs Bowman who is a Service Volunteer Manager at Surrey Fire & Rescue Service said:

“Losing Lily was heart breaking, our world simply fell apart; there are so many things I wish I’d have known then that I know now. “I would urge the NHS to make GBS testing a routine part of antenatal care so parents don’t have to plead for what could be a simple but life-saving measure”.

Emmalene Bushnell from the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day who are acting on behalf of Mr and Mrs Bowman against the hospital, said:

“The introduction of GBS screening programmes for woman between 35 and 37 weeks would prevent further injury or deaths of babies from an infection which can easily be identified and treated by a swab test and antibiotic.

“Many other countries have already developed such a programme and have seen a significant fall in the number of babies born with GBS”