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Major step forward in the battle against Group B Strep as a new joint patient leaflet is launched by the RCOG and leading patient charity

News 19 December 2017

The battle against group B Strep (GBS) took a huge leap forward today with the launch of a new patient leaflet which will be provided to all pregnant women for the first time.

GBS is the UK’s most common cause of life threatening infection in newborn babies but recent surveys have shown that many pregnant women feel inadequately informed about the illness. On average two babies a day develop the infection, with one a week dying and one a week being left with life-changing disability.

Now a clear and concise patient information leaflet is to be provided to all pregnant women as part of their routine antenatal care. This was jointly written by experts at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the campaigning charity Group B Strep Support, and is based on the RCOG’s recently updated Green-top Guideline, Group B Streptococcal Disease, Early-onset[i]. It is now online and will be available as a hard copy in 2018 from Group B Strep Support.

A recent survey found that only a third of pregnant women feel adequately informed about GBS[ii] and that they were more likely to hear about GBS from a friend or through personal experience, than from health professionals.

Following the RCOG’s September update to its Green-top Guideline, it is now national recommended practice to provide all pregnant women with information about GBS. This new leaflet will ensure women are equipped with high-quality information including on how to minimise the risk of infection in their baby.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“We want the NHS to be the safest place in the world to give birth, and part of the fight for safer births is about arming parents and NHS staff with knowledge to spot signs and take preventative action. This programme giving parents clear information on the signs of group B Strep infection and guidance on when to seek medical advice is another welcome and important step towards achieving our ambition.”

Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Justin Madders said:

“I have said in the past that we should be able to do a lot more about group B Strep, given that it is a largely preventable infection. A shocking statistic is that two babies a day develop group B Strep infection. One baby a week will die, and one a week will be left with life-changing disability. These numbers are far too high.

“So I am very pleased to support this partnership between the RCOG and GBSS, and the improved prevention of group B Strep it will bring. This new information leaflet will help families minimise the risk of infection to their baby, so hopefully we will see fewer of these infections going forward.”

Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive, Group B Strep Support said:

“We are delighted to be working with the RCOG to raise awareness of group B Strep among pregnant women. For the first time, this new joint leaflet will provide clear, concise and consistent information to all pregnant women throughout the NHS to help improve knowledge and awareness, as well as reduce the mixed messages that are sometimes given about GBS.”

Mr Edward Morris, Vice President for Clinical Quality, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“While many pregnant women carry GBS, in the majority of cases, their babies are born safely and without developing an infection. However, GBS infection in newborn babies can be dangerous. By providing all pregnant women with an information leaflet on GBS for the first time, we can help to raise awareness and save the lives of babies.  

“We are pleased to have worked with Group B Strep Support on this joint project and look forward to future collaborative efforts in bringing attention to this serious infection.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Case study

Dan and Birgitta Hobster’s daughter Natalie was born 27 August 2017, and sadly died on 4 October 2017 as a result of early-onset group B Strep infection. They live in London and are available for interview. Please contact Group B Strep Support on 01444 416176 or email jplumb@gbss.org.uk 

For comment, interview or further case studies:

Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive, Group B Strep Support
For more information, please contact Jane Plumb on 01444 416176 or 07986 745387 or by email jplumb@gbss.org.uk

RCOG Media & PR office
For more information, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6357 or by email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (RCOG) www.rcog.org.uk  

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.

Group B Strep Support www.gbss.org.uk

Group B Strep Support is the UK charity working to stop group B Strep (GBS) infection in babies. We raise awareness of group B Strep among the public and support affected families, provide information to health professionals about how to prevent, identify and treat GBS infection in babies, campaign for improvements to UK prevention strategies and support research into preventing GBS infection in babies. Supported by a respected medical advisory panel, GBSS will continue to press the Government and the UK National Screening Committee to go beyond informing women to protecting them, by introducing routine screening for GBS on the NHS.


[i] RCOG Group B Streptococcal Disease, Early-onset https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg36/

[ii] Bounty Group B Strep Survey. July 2017. N=3319.