Mum Calls For All Pregnant Women To Be Tested For Strep B After Son Was Left With Brain Damage
Bethany Ford was tested for the bacteria when she went into labour with her son, but she did not receive her results- which came back positive - until she had given birth.
The 23-year-old's newborn, Grayson, was immediately admitted into a special care baby unit with meningitis.
Now, aged three, Grayson has global development delay meaning he has rapid mood swings and difficulty processing things, which has lead him to self harm with behaviour like pulling his hair.
Strep B is a common bacteria normally found in the intestine, vagina, and rectum in about 25 per cent of all healthy pregnant women, according to the NHS.
It's not routinely tested for, and it usually shows up during tests carried out for other reasons, such as urine tests of vaginal swabs.
If pregnant women are found to have strep B, there is around a 1 in 1,750 chance it can spread to your baby during labour - Bethany's pregnancy was one of these.
"The first few weeks of Grayson's life were incredibly traumatic and no parent should have to see their child suffer and struggle in the way he did," says Bethany from Mitcham in south-west London.
"It is also difficult to take that following his birth it seemed like the doctors did not initially think there was any cause for concern."
The mum and her husband Keith, 32, are now campaigning for all women to be tested on the NHS for group B strep between 35 and 37 weeks into their pregnancy. If pregnant women are tested this early, they can be given appropriate treatment to protect their children.
"The older Grayson gets the more we are noticing just how far behind other children his age he is," Bethany said.
"We love Grayson so much and are determined to ensure that he gets the best from life.
"However, we think it is also vital that steps are taken to ensure that group B Strep testing is undertaken a lot earlier than it was in our case.
"It's important to talk about this issue and we believe that something needs to change."
The couple have been in touch with specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their son's care at the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Richard Kayser, expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said: "A simple test can be conducted to highlight whether an expectant mother is a carrier of the condition and her care plan can be adjusted to ensure intravenous antibiotics are provided throughout labour to prevent the infection being transmitted.
"Everything possible must be done to prevent this infection in babies."
As a result of Grayson's case, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust have agreed to take part in a trial of universal screening for group B strep.
Ramesh Ganapathy, clinical director of women and children's services, that the hospital currently follows guidelines from Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, adding: "We fully recognise how serious and in some cases, devastating, it is when this bacteria spreads to a baby.
"As a result, we have agreed in principle to take part in a trial of universal screening for group B strep.
"We hope this trial will provide the evidence needed around universal screening, and we will implement any subsequent changes to the guidelines."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS