by JENNY MONROE
Jeffrey Donaldson MP,
Jane Plumb (Group B Strep Support),
Michael and Louise Rice and their son
Oliver (who developed GBS infection at
birth) and Susan Kyle.
THE campaign to pre vent Group B Strep infection
(GBS) in babies got a helping hand this week when Lagan Valley
MP Jeffrey Donaldson co-hosted an event to raise awareness.
Mr Donaldson and Dr Alasdair McDonnell
jointly led the campaign at Stormont in a bid to bring attention
to the need to help save babies' lives by making sensitive
testing for group B Streptococcus (GBS) available to all
pregnant women on the NHS.
Mr Donaldson commented: "Northern Ireland has
the highest rate of GBS infection in babies in the UK. Group B
Strep causes many families unnecessary distress and heartache
every year. We in Northern Ireland have the opportunity to lead
the way in the UK by raising awareness of GBS and introducing
screening to protect our babies from this devastating and
Maghaberry woman Susan Kyle, a supporter of
Group B Strep Support (GBSS), was one of the organisers of the
event. Susan found she carried GBS during her second pregnancy
but had the recommended antibiotics in labour and her baby
was born healthy.
She said: "Every mother should have the right
to protect her baby from this deadly, but preventable,
infection. In many countries - Canada, France, Italy, Australia
and the USA to name a few - testing for GBS is a routine part of
antenatal care. Northern Ireland cannot ignore its high
infection rate and can set a precedent for the whole of the UK
by making reliable testing for GBS freely available to all
Guest speakers Jane Plumb, Chairman of GBSS,
and Prof Philip Steer, Professor of Obstetrics at the Chelsea &
Westminster Hospital in London, addressed an audience of MPs,
MLAs, health professionals and families affected by group B
Professor Steer said: "GBS infection can
usually be prevented by giving antibiotics during labour to
women whose babies are most at risk.
All expectant mothers should be given the
opportunity to take a simple swab test and find out if they are
carrying GBS; this knowledge could save their baby's life. At
the moment, lives are being lost needlessly."
•For more information about GBS, contact
Group B Strep Support, tel: 0870 803 0023 or go to