Medical Negligence

Group B Strep in Pregnancy and Babies Conference

Slater and Gordon attended the annual Group B Strep in Pregnancy and Babies Conference, where clinical experts discussed and provided the latest research on prevention policies, different testing options, the use of antibiotics and steps taken to develop a Group B Strep vaccine.

08 June 2023

Woman with baby showing book

We were delighted to attend and sponsor the annual Group B Strep in Pregnancy and Babies Conference on 17 May 2023. Group B Strep is the leading cause of severe infection (including sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis) in newborn babies in the UK.

The conference focused on the fundamental importance of preventing Group B Strep infection in babies and on identifying and treating these infections. We listened to a number of world-renowned speakers and experts and also parents, whose babies had very sadly contracted Group B Strep infection. Over 89% of the conference delegates worked in a clinical setting and said in a survey that attending the conference would change their clinical practice.

During the conference, we learned that on average 66 babies are diagnosed with Group B Strep every month. 56 babies make a full recovery. Sadly, 4 babies die and 6 survive with physical/mental disability. These figures are based on babies aged 0-90 days in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Speakers and clinical experts discussed and provided the latest research updates on prevention policies, different testing options, the use of antibiotics and the steps taken to develop a Group B Strep vaccine.

The experts agreed that in the long term, the administration of an effective Group B Strep vaccine in pregnancy is likely to be the best solution for preventing Group B Strep in babies. This would also be cost effective and have significant health benefits for women and babies in the UK and also throughout the world. In the meantime, in the UK, GBSS would like to see ECM (enriched culture medium) testing made available to all women, rather than just some in the NHS or privately, as is the current situation.

It was reassuring to learn that hospital trusts are starting to provide pregnant women with leaflets about Group B Strep produced by Group B Strep Support, and awareness is improving amongst clinicians and the public, but more can still be done.

Finally, we received an update on the GBS3 Trial which is currently being undertaken by Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit. This is a large-scale cluster randomised control trial based on data from 71 hospitals in England and Wales and 320,000 women and their babies. The purpose of this important trial is to look at whether testing pregnant women for Group B Strep reduces the risk in newborn babies compared to the current strategy in place in the UK, which is risk based. The current strategy in the UK is to offer antibiotics during labour to women who are considered at raised risk of their baby developing a Group B Strep infection. The results of the trial are due to be published in 2025.

As medical negligence specialists, we act for clients in very sad cases where failures in the care provided to pregnant women and babies in respect of Group B Strep have caused stillbirth, neonatal death and infections in babies causing life- long disabilities. With greater knowledge, awareness, a testing method that is not just risk based and a potential vaccine, we hope to see less of these very sad cases in the future.

The work that GBSS are doing to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of Group B Strep; the need for more widespread screening; and the warning signs that medical staff should consider if there is a history of Group B strep is vital to ensuring the safety of newborn babies and will hopefully prevent terribly sad cases of stillbirth, neonatal death and infections in newborn babies (including sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia).

Three of our lawyers Laura Preston, Emma Doughty and Madeline Seibert ran the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 2 April 2023 in aid of Group B Strep Support and the fantastic work they are doing. Our fundraising efforts and the impact they might have, really hit home when listening to the families who were brave enough to share their stories of being impacted by Group B Strep, and who now campaign to raise awareness. If you or your baby has been affected by GBS infection and you believe that the care/treatment that you received from your medical professionals may have been substandard, please contact Laura Preston on Laura is a medical negligence expert with a special interest in GBS cases and sits on the GBSS legal expert panel.

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