Grieving parents say test could have saved baby

PAIN Natalie Frost with her husband Michael
PAIN Natalie Frost with her husband Michael

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GRIEVING parents Michael and Natalie Frost are calling for the introduction of a simple £10 test they believe could have saved their daughter’s life.

Mr and Mrs Frost were devastated when their baby girl, who they named Ella, was stillborn. She died in the womb after contracting group B streptococcus (GBS).

The germ is found in about a quarter of women, and often causes no ill effects. It can be treated with antibiotics. A simple test for the bacteria which costs about £10 is available – but not on the NHS.

Mr and Mrs Frost, of Paddington Road, North End, are now backing a campaign for all pregnant women to be screened and treated if necessary.

Mrs Frost, 29, a test analyst, was in labour in a birthing pool at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, when nurses first noticed there was a problem.

‘They were checking Ella’s heartbeat and they kept losing it,’ said Mrs Frost.

‘Then all of a sudden I felt a horrendous pain and there were three or four midwives trying to find a heartbeat.’

Ella was then stillborn. Mr Frost, 32, an electrician, said: ‘No-one told us for 11 weeks and in that time we had all sorts of thoughts going through our mind.

‘We came up with our own reasons and asked why she still wasn’t here.

‘We lost our daughter to something that is preventable and that makes us very angry. Even if we had known about it and had a choice it would have been something.

‘But because this didn’t happen we are left with a big hole in our hearts. It will never go and it’s something we will have to live with.’

Mr and Mrs Frost have joined a national campaign run by charity Group B Strep Support to raise awareness of the bacteria test.

‘My daughter’s life was robbed because of this and it could have been prevented,’ added Mrs Frost.

‘We’re urging people to sign the petition online so it is discussed in parliament.’

The National Screening Committee is in charge of what conditions should be routinely checked for.

Director of programmes Anne Mackie said: ‘Losing a child in this way is a tragedy for this family. At present, the effectiveness of introducing a screening programme for group B streptococcus has not been proven.

‘As such, the current policy is that screening is not recommended.

‘However a public consultation on the screening review will open early this summer.

‘We welcome all research that will assist our review, in the hope that more effective screening and treatment methods can be made available.’

Petition to call on all MPs to act over condition

A CAMPAIGN has been launched calling for pregnant women to be routinely screened for Group B streptococcus, known as GBS.

The bug is found in around a quarter of women and is usually harmless.

But according to charity Group B Strep Support, around 700 children are born with GBS each year after it is passed on to them via the mother during labour. Of those born, around 75 babies die from GBS.

And the charity says a further 40 are left with long-term mental or physical problems.

The charity is calling for more awareness of the bacteria among the public and medical professionals.

And it wants a £10 test that can detect the bacteria to be made available on the NHS so women can be given antibiotics.

An online petition has been started and 100,000 signatures are needed so the issue is discussed in the House of Commons. The charity wants to present the signatures to Downing Street next month.

To find out more and sign the petition, go to gbss.org.uk/epetition