Bereaved parents whose daughter died shortly after birth have urged families to be aware of a test which is a potential life-saver.
Amanda Barnes and Jason Osborne’s daughter Mia died in January after contracting septicaemia, believed to be the result of her catching an infection from the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria present in her mother.
Up to a third of adults in the UK carry the bacteria without showing any symptoms, and it can affect newborn babies and their mothers.
In many countries, pregnant women are told a test is available to see if a child is at risk.
If so, antibiotics can be given to prevent infection to both mother and baby.
Although tests are available privately in the UK – costing about £35 – parents are not routinely told they exist.
In the UK, about 75 babies die every year from the GBS infections.
Jason and Amanda, from Desborough, have six other children between them.
But care assistant Amanda, 37, said she had never heard of the GBS bacteria before.
She said: “I want pregnant women to know the test is there if they want it.
“It’s a life-saver. It takes a simple swab to find it. If other countries are doing it, why aren’t we?
“We’re not saying offer parents a free test, we’re saying just mention it.
“You get so many leaflets when you are pregnant, but not about that.”
Amanda was 25 weeks pregnant when her waters broke on January 11.
Mia was born at Kettering General Hospital on January 13 and passed away the same day.
Amanda added: “We both had septicaemia.
“Luckily they managed to stabilise me but, bless her, Mia was too small to fight it.
“It was just such a horrible time, you wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Jason, 40, a test manager, added: “We were amazed by the fact that GBS is the biggest killer of premature babies in the UK but there is so little knowledge of it.
“We just want people to be given the decision on whether to pay the £30-odd or not.
“I have got pregnant friends and it’s the guilt you would feel if you didn’t tell them.
“When our children get older and become mothers and fathers I will absolutely insist they have that test.
“Obviously there’s nothing we can do for Mia now, but we can raise awareness. It will mean her life was not in vain.”
Change how GBS is dealt with
Campaigners from charity Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Support say a number of changes should be made to better deal with the problems GBS can cause.
It wants all pregnant women to be told about GBS as a routine part of antenatal care and every low-risk pregnant woman to be offered a free test at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy or to be told tests are available privately.
It says higher-risk women should be offered antibiotics from the start of labour until delivery and antibiotics should be recommended for pregnancies which are most at risk.
High-risk women are those who carry GBS, those who have had a baby with GBS disease, and those where recognised risk factors are present. For more details see www.gbss.org.uk.