A MOTHER whose baby son died when he was three days old has backed a campaign for routine screening of the infection which caused his death.
Hayley Keane contracted Group B Streptococcus while pregnant and passed the infection on to her third child, Simon John Foster.
The infection led to meningitis and the youngster died in her arms on December 21, aged just three-days.
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GBS is a natural bacteria which occurs in about one quarter of women and causes no harm at all.
Pregnant women can pass the bacteria on to their babies and while the vast majority experience no ill-effect, a small proportion become ill and about 40 babies a year die.
GBS is not routinely screened for in the UK and Ms Keane, from Hartlepool, believes her baby could still be alive if a test had been carried out.
She is sharing her story after reading about Rachel Hetherington, from Newton Aycliffe, whose terminally ill daughter contracted GBS and went onto develop meningitis and irreversible brain damage.
Miss Hetherington, 21, was tested for the infection but failed to receive the antibiotics needed to prevent it passing to her baby.
She and Ms Keane both back Group B Strep Support’s campaign for routine GBS screening for pregnant women and, until this happens, Ms Keane, 26, is urging women to be tested privately.
“You can’t put a price on a baby’s life,” she said. “What happened to us was traumatic and devastating and I don’t want anyone else to go through this.”
Mother of babies at high risk of GBS can receive antibiotics during labour but the UK National Screening Committee does not recommend screening for all pregnant women, as tests cannot predict whether mothers will have the infection by the time they go into labour
There is also insufficient evidence to show the benefits would outweigh the potential harm caused by the unnecessary use of antibiotics at labour.