‘Testing could save the lives of newborns’

Katie Farrant and her daughter six week old Isla (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160215-104910008
Katie Farrant and her daughter six week old Isla (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-160215-104910008

A new mum, who was told her newborn daughter could face a life-threatening illness due to a bacteria found in a quarter of all women, is calling for tests during pregnancy.

Katie Farrant, from Langney Point, gave birth to her daughter Isla Farrant at The Conquest in Hastings on January 7.

When little Isla was just six day old, Katie experienced some abnormal bleeding and had tests done which showed she had Group B Strep. It is usually a harmless bacteria found in some people, but can be dangerous to the baby in labour.

The mum-of-two, who conceived Isla through IVF, found out more about the condition and realised it could put her young daughter’s life in danger.

She said, “It is fatal. It is basically a bit like meningitis.”

Isla is now six weeks old and Katie added, “The symptoms can show anywhere from birth to three months old. Isla is ok and doing well but I am still keeping a close eye on her for any symptoms.”

After doing more research and finding a charity, called Group B Strep Support, which specialises in campaigning for screening in pregnant women, Katie found out the screening and treatment are simple tests.

She told the Herald, “The test is simple and if you were found to carry Group B Strep you could have antibiotics via a drip during labour to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems for your baby.”

Katie says the test is cheap, at £11, and she doesn’t understand why it is not offered under the NHS in this country.

She said, “You can have the test done privately and it costs about £35 which is really a small price to pay for that peace of mind.

“When you think about all the items you buy for your newborn baby, £35 doesn’t seem like a lot and it is worth it to make sure they are healthy.

“If I had that test I would have saved myself so much worry. When you are a new mum, you worry about newborns enough anyway and your hormones are all over the place, so having this extra worry has been really difficult. It makes you paranoid.

“I have some friends that are pregnant at the moment and while I don’t want to worry people unnecessarily, it is something that is best to know about.”

Information from the Strep B Support charity states, “Carrying GBS is perfectly normal and natural.

“Carrying GBS is not associated with any health risks or symptoms to the carrier.

“It’s good to know whether you carry GBS during pregnancy – if it’s been detected during your current pregnancy, you should be offered intravenous antibiotics in labour.

“These massively reduce the risk of your newborn baby developing a group B Strep infection. There are no symptoms of carrying GBS, so the only way to find out whether you are is through testing.

“Intravenous antibiotics, given in labour to women who carry GBS late in pregnancy, have been shown to be highly effective at reducing the risk that a newborn baby will develop early-onset GBS infection (GBS infection developing in the first six days of life).

“They do not reduce late-onset GBS infection (developing from age seven days and typically by age three months).”

Katie plans to circulate leaflets to raise awareness.