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New guideline to prevent neonatal death

To prevent neonatal death, new Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) guidelines say give women in premature labour antibiotics.

Pregnant women who go into labour prematurely should be offered intravenous antibiotics to prevent transmission of Group B Streptococcal (GBS) to their baby.

GBS is a normal bacterium:

  • It is carried by up to a third of adults.
  • Most commonly found in the gut.
  • Up to 25% of women carry GBS in the vagina, usually with no symptoms or side-effects.

Most pregnant women who carry GBS bacteria have healthy babies.

However, there's a small risk that GBS can pass to your baby during childbirth.

Sometimes GBS infection in newborn babies can cause serious complications that can be life threatening. But this is not common.

Extremely rarely, GBS infection during pregnancy can also cause miscarriage, early (premature) labour, or stillbirth.

It's estimated about one pregnant woman in five in the UK carries GBS in their digestive system or vagina.

Around the time of labour and birth, many babies are colonised. Colonisation means that the bacteria is present, but no signs or symptoms are experienced.

In some cases, colonisation of GBS in babies leads to infection.

The new RCOG Guidelines state that any woman who goes into labour before 37 weeks should be offered antibiotics. This is to prevent passing on GBS to the baby.

The Guidelines also state women who have tested positive for GBS in a previous pregnancy can be tested at 35 to 37 weeks in subsequent pregnancies. This is with a view to give antibiotics during labour.

The Guidance also calls for all pregnant women to be provided with a leaflet containing “appropriate” information about GBS to support decision making. But also to raise awareness of signs of the infection in babies, so it can be spotted early.

Professor Peter Brocklehurst, Professor of Women’s Health at the University of Birmingham co-authored the Guidelines. Her says: “We hope to reduce the number of early onset Group B Strep infections and neonatal deaths in babies born before 37 weeks.

“Ensuring a consistent approach to care in all maternity units is vital to achieving the best outcomes for both mother and baby.”

Charity, Group B Strep Support, would like every pregnant woman to have the opportunity to screening.

Chief executive, Jane Plumb, says: "The RCOG guideline is a significant improvement on previous editions, however, the UK National Screening Committee still recommends against offering GBS screening to all pregnant women, ignoring international evidence that shows such screening reduces GBS infection, disability and death in newborn babies."

During your pregnancy and when in labour, you put your utmost trust into the medical professionals around you.

You are in a very vulnerable position and trust that the experts know what they are doing.

Unfortunately, often this is not the case and women in labour are not given the care and treatment they need.

Failure to act promptly during labour can result in life-changing injuries/disabilities for the newborn baby and/or the mother.

Sometimes, it can even result in death.

This is completely unacceptable.

Here at Swain & Co Solicitors we work with families affected by birth injuries and medical negligence during pregnancy and birth.

If you would like expert advice involving medical mistakes, or injuries sustained during pregnancy or birth, speak to us for free.

Free initial advice relating to your individual circumstances. No obligation.

Call us for free on 0800 0351 999.

Or fill out the enquiry form and we will contact you back.

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