Over Easter my clients Nousheen and Iestyn North featured in a national newspaper article which told the story of the preventable death of their baby son.
The couple very bravely spoke to the Daily Mail to raise awareness of a treatable infection that caused their first baby Evan to develop overwhelming sepsis during labour.
Group B Strep is a common infection that is carried by one in four people and is generally harmless. However it can be extremely dangerous for babies and can be passed on to them from the mother during childbirth. If the mother is identified as a carrier then antibiotics should be given to her during labour so her baby is protected.
However currently the NHS does not routinely screen pregnant women for the presence of Group Strep B bacteria. Women may be tested on the NHS as part of investigations for other issues during pregnancy such as bleeding, or in Nousheen’s case, signs of early labour. Private testing kits can also be purchased but as the NHS provides very little, or no, information about Group B Strep to expectant parents, many have never even heard of it.
Nousheen was tested by an NHS doctor when she started having contractions three weeks early. However a communication error meant the positive test result was not passed on to her or midwives and antibiotics were not provided.
Nousheen and Iestyn, who have since had a healthy baby boy called Louie, wanted to raise awareness of Group B Strep so that they can save even just one other family from going through the same ordeal. They also support a campaign by charity Group B Strep Support for the NHS to introduce routine screening into maternity care so that many other babies can be protected.
It is couples such as Nousheen and Iestyn who help to bring about change by sharing their heart-breaking stories, ensuring lessons are learned. Unfortunately theirs is far from an isolated example and the UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the developed world. Much more research and awareness is needed to address this and by sharing their story Nousheen and Iestyn have played their part.