Parents' plea for £10 test to save Strep B babies

A couple from Kempston in Bedfordshire are campaigning for the Government to pay for a £10 test which they say could have saved their baby's life.

Sarah Campbell's first son, Ewan, died just 8 hours after he was born. Unknown to her or the doctors, Sarah had passed the potentially deadly B Streptococcus infection to Ewan during birth. The bacteria does not affect adults but it is the biggest killer of new born babies in the UK.

Every year 30 newborns die of 'Strep B' and a further 200 are left with some form of disability. Despite these figures, Britain is one of only a few developed countries which doesn't routinely screen expectant mothers.

Previously, the UK National Screening Committee has ruled against rolling out a national screening programme on the grounds that the test used by the NHS is unreliable and could lead to pregnant women being given antibiotics unnecessarily.

The concern is that antibiotics interfere with the development of a healthy baby's immune system, increasing the risk of asthma and other allergies. But those in favour of screening say a new test is more accurate and would only cost the NHS £10 per test.

Sarah and her husband Adam now have a two year old daughter called Lorna and an 8 week year old son Scott, but say not a day goes past without thinking of Ewan. 'It's hard to put into words the pain we felt at losing our first child without ever having experienced the joy of getting to know him. It was like someone ripping out our hearts.'

NICE, the group who advice the government on clinical matters, is reviewing whether a national screening should be rolled out across the UK.

Click here for more information from Group B Strep Support or call 01444 416176