Portsmouth mum warns of deadly bacteria

Sara Boam
Sara Boam
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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MUM Sara Boam says she feels lucky to have her children as she was diagnosed with a potentially harmful bacteria during pregnancy.

The 46-year-old is mum to Tommy, 13, and Alfie, 10, with husband Kevin, 50.

During her first pregnancy, tests found Mrs Boam, a case work officer, had group B streptococcus (GBS).

As reported in the The News, another couple, Robyn and Darrell Bennett, lost their daughter Sydney after only 22 days, and Natalie and Michael Frost lost their daughter Ella during childbirth, as the bacteria was not spotted early enough for them.

All three couples are now calling for the National Screening Committee to make an £11 test available on the NHS.

Mrs Boam, of Wesley Grove, Copnor, said: ‘My heart goes out to the families that have lost babies through GBS.

‘I also had it, but was one of the lucky ones as it was discovered before I went into labour.’

In August 2000, at seven months pregnant, Mrs Boam was taken to the former St Mary’s Hospital, in Milton Road, Portsmouth, with a small bleed.

She was kept in overnight where swabs revealed Mrs Boam had the bacteria.

She said: ‘When I was back at home I received a phone call from my midwife to say they discovered I had GBS. I was told I would need antibiotics in labour. Myself and my family were terrified that something would go wrong while in labour.

‘When it came to the labour I was put on an antibiotic drip, and my baby was delivered safely.’

And when Mrs Boam became pregnant for a second time, she was again put on an antibiotic drip during labour, as she was found to be carrying GBS.

She said: ‘I did ask why could women not be tested for GBS, I was told it was really difficult to test for as it can come and go through the pregnancy, but surely this could be tested for at the very late stages of the pregnancy?

‘We had never heard of GBS before this and I believe women should be made aware of it and at a cost of just £11 for a test, I would even pay for it myself.’

General antibiotic use should be avoided

THE group in charge of screening says cost is not the reason why the routine group B streptococcus test is not given.

Dr Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the National Screening Committee, said: ‘Our most recent review of screening concluded the probability of a baby being affected by early onset GBS identified by antenatal testing would be very low.

‘However, the number of women that would be offered antibiotics as a result of having a positive test result would be very high. This could expose the mother and baby to unnecessary antibiotic use.’