Call for vaccine to prevent GBS infection in babies

10th November 2021 Clinical Negligence

Earlier this month the World Health Organisation and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) published a new report calling for a vaccine to prevent group B Streptococcus (GBS).

The report highlighted the devastating effect of GBS. It leads to around 150,000 deaths of babies each year, more than half a million preterm births and significant long-term disability worldwide. WHO and LSHTM called for more researchers, vaccine developers and funders to work on developing an effective vaccine that could be administered to women in the antenatal period during routine appointments.

Currently, the main means of trying to reduce the cases of GBS in babies is through testing and giving antibiotics to mothers before birth. However, in many countries, including the UK, testing is not routine and antibiotics are not given to every mother. That means many families are still suffering from the impact of GBS.

The WHO & LSHTM report points out that GBS is probably a bigger threat than most people recognise. In the UK and Republic of Ireland 66 babies are diagnosed with GBS each month and sadly six suffer long-term disabilities and four babies die.

That is too many families left devastated each year, which is why we at JMW are working with the UK based charity Group B Strep Support (GBSS) to raise awareness of GBS and to try to prevent GBS infecting babies.

Jane Plumb, CEO of GBSS described the report as ‘hugely important’ which she hopes will be a ‘game-changer’. We do too.

At JMW We see the terrible impact of GBS when our clients consult us having lost their baby or when they realise that their babies have suffered brain damage and life-changing injuries. In JMW’s London clinical negligence team alone we have spoken to three families in the last month whose babies it seems may have been infected with GBS and suffered injury or death as a result. Whilst we can help those families obtain answers, get to the bottom of what happened and claim compensation to meet their child’s needs, we are all hoping for a day that those babies who could have contracted GBS are born alive and well having been protected by a vaccine.

You can read more about the work of GBSS here: https://gbss.org.uk/

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Nicola Wainwright is a Partner located in Londonin our Clinical Negligence department

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