'He had gone in minutes' - Couple whose baby died from Strep B call for pregnancy screenings

The parents of a baby boy who died just 14 hours after he was born are now calling for national screening of pregnant women for Group B Streptococcus.

Zachary Taylor-Smith was born in November 2022 weighing 6 pounds and 3 ounces.

His mother Hannah Taylor-Smith said: "It was amazing because we'd had so many complications throughout the pregnancy, I was quite poorly.

"We didn't actually know we were having a boy. It was just amazing wasn't it?"

Zachary Credit: ITV News Central

Soon after labour, Zachary contracted an infection which led to various problems, including breathing difficulties.

Hannah added: "He was making grunting noises, he just had no interest in feeding, he was very sleepy, very tired, pretty much straight away as soon as he was born."

Hours later, his condition began to deteriorate and he stopped breathing.

The couple say he was then fighting for his life in the neonatal unit at Derby Hospital.

Sadly, just 14 hours after being born, Zachary died.

Credit: ITV News Central

Hannah said: "Not one part of me thought he was going to die. The doctor ran into the room, well it felt like he ran into the room, he said you need to come, he's dying, you need to come and be with him.

"I just ran, they unplugged him and placed him in my arms, and he had gone within minutes, it was so, so fast."

It wasn't until the following day that his parents, Hannah and Tim, were told he'd died from a condition called Strep B or GBS.

His dad, Tim, said: "We didn't know anything about it before, even during the pregnancy, we weren't aware of it.

"It's the moment when you get your baby in your arms, you think everything is going to be ok. You just think that's it, next step is go home and enjoy time with family, but we didn't get that chance."

Hannah said it was frightening that Zachary was her fifth baby and she'd never heard of Strep B.

What is Strep B?

  • Group B strep is a type of bacteria called streptococcal bacteria.

  • It affects two to four women in 10.

  • It is normally harmless and most people will not realise they have it.

  • It's usually only a problem if it affects pregnant women as it could spread to the baby. It can also make young babies very ill. It can cause serious infection in elderly people.

  • There is no routine screening during pregnancy for GBS in the UK, unlike in other countries.

According to Group B Strep Support, up to two-thirds of GBS infection in babies are of early onset (showing within the first 6 days of life).

What are the symptoms of early onset GBS?

  • Grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seems to be working hard to breathe when you look at the chest or tummy, or not breathing at all.

  • Being very sleepy and/or unresponsive

  • Inconsolable crying

  • Being unusually floppy

  • Not feeding well or not keeping milk down

  • Having a high or low temperature, and/or be hot or cold to the touch

  • Having changes in their skin colour (including blotchy skin)

  • Having an abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate

  • Having low blood pressure

  • Having low blood sugar 

Zachary's family are now calling for national screening of pregnant women for Group B Streptococcus.

They told ITV News Central: "Obviously had I had screening for it, none of this would've happened, he would still be here today."

Zachary Credit: ITV News Central

Currently, there is no routine screening during pregnancy for Strep GBS in the UK, unlike in other countries.

According to the charity Group B Strep Support it's the most common cause of infection in newborn babies, which can lead to meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia.

On average, one baby each week dies from Strep B in England.

Hannah said: "It's not even about just the screening, it's about the education, because I didn't even know about it, there's no leaflet, awareness, there's just nothing."

Zachary's parents Credit: ITV News Central

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust issued a statement saying "the loss of a baby is tragic and, whilst rare, it takes these cases very seriously".

The statement reads: "Our heartfelt condolences remain with Tim and his family at this incredibly difficult time.

"The loss of a baby is tragic and, whilst rare, we take these cases very seriously and we are investigating Zachary's case to make sure his family get full answers to their concerns.

"Under national guidance Group B Streptococcus screening is not routinely offered to all pregnant women, but the Trust has joined a national research trial that looks to screen women who are over 35 weeks into their pregnancy."

Help for Strep B:

  • Group B Strep Support - a group which helps with emotional support and raising awareness of Strep B