The ‘Why guess? When you can test’ campaign has been launched to make women and midwives aware of deadly bacteria and reduce the chances of it being passed on, as well as making the ECM test widely available under the NHS and within private practices.
The charity Group b Strep Support (GBSS), who has launched the campaign, has said on average in the UK one new born baby is infected with group b Strep everyday.
Every week, a child dies from the deadly bacteria, with one every fortnight surviving but left with mental and physical disabilities.
Chief Executive of the charity, Jane Plumb MBE said: “Most group b Strep infections in new born babies can be prevented when we know which pregnant women are carrying the bacteria.”
According to the charity, very few health professionals have access to the ECM test, which is capable of identifying carriers more accurately than the widely available test that only picks up 40% of those who carry the bacteria.
Each ECM test costs £11 under the NHS and can identify if a pregnant woman is a carrier in late pregnancy.
GBSS is now calling for the test to be made widely available, in a bid to stop group b Strep bacteria from infecting infants.
Statistics have shown that 20-30% of women carry group b Strep bacteria without any symptoms and without harm.
A petition has gained 200,000 signatures to make ECM tests available to more pregnant women, and has received support from medical experts, TV and sports stars.
More information can be found here.