Mum calls for Group B Strep testing after daughter left gravely ill
PUBLISHED: 15:15 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 02 August 2019
A mother whose daughter became gravely ill hours after birth with Group B Strep is campaigning for a screening test costing just £11 to be made available on the NHS.
Ame Jenkins was left distraught when her newborn daughter Lilee fell seriously ill an experience made all the more traumatic because she had no idea what the mystery illness was.
"Although Lilee was my first baby, all my instincts were telling me that something was gravely wrong with my beautiful daughter," she said.
"I became more and more distressed as no one appeared to be listening; I then started to scream for a doctor to see her. I had no idea what was wrong with my baby.
"She was rushed away and taken to the Special Baby Care Unit and put on a ventilator. She had every test, including a lumbar puncture, X-rays, scans and blood tests. It was very traumatic.
"When they finally said it was Group B Strep and that it was contracted from me obviously the level of guilt was huge and that will always stay with me. It was worse because I didn't know anything about it."
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a normal bacterium which is carried by 20% to 40% of adults and effects pregnant woman and babies.
On average in the UK, at least two babies a day develop a group B Strep infection, one baby a week dies from their GBS infection and one baby a week survives with long-term disabilities - physical, mental or both.
The 27-year-old now mum of two, from Rickinghall, near Diss, is now a volunteer ambassador for Group B Strep Support, the UK's only charity dedicated to the prevention of the life-threatening infection.
She said: "I've had another daughter since, Ellyse, who is two, and when I went to baby groups I always told them about my story. It is so important to make women aware."
The UK is the one of very few developed countries that does not routinely screen pregnant women for Group B Strep infection and yet it affects more babies than spina bifida.
"Babies are dying from this because they are contracting septicemia, pneumonia and meningitis and it is very sad because it is completely preventable by a mere swab and local antibiotics during labour," she said.
"It is such a simple swab that would cost the NHS £11 and it would save so much unnecessary trauma for families."
Ame and her daughters now also fundraise for the charity that is not government funded. Lilee, now eight and fully recovered from the illness, recently had 24cm cut off her beloved hair and has already raised over £2,410.
Her mum said: "I was so surprised she has always said I want hair like Rapunzel but she was keen to do it. I'm so proud of her."