RCOG Publishes New Guidance On Managing Group B Strep Infection
After much campaigning from the charity Group B Strep Support, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recently updated their guidelines on Group b Strep, full details of which can be accessed at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg36/
Any change to the guidelines is a huge advance and comes as a result of the tireless efforts of Group B Strep Support in promoting awareness of this infection which, until recently, has largely been underappreciated yet on average in the UK a baby develops group B Strep infection every day and every week a baby dies from the infection. Every fortnight a baby who recovers from their group B Strep infection is left with life-long disability with half of the survivors of group B Strep meningitis suffering from blindness, deafness or physical or learning disabilities.
Recent news coverage has focused almost entirely on one of the new recommendations contained in the guidelines, that being that antibiotics should be offered to women in preterm labour. The publicity surrounding the new guidelines has been excellent in helping to promote awareness of the infection yet the guidelines actually make three extremely important recommendations:-
1. All pregnant women to be given an information leaflet about group B Strep 2. All women in preterm labour to be offered intravenous antibiotics, and 3. Where a mother carried GBS in a previous pregnancy and her baby did not develop GBS infection, she should be offered the option of either intravenous antibiotics in a subsequent labours or ECM testing late in another pregnancy with offer of the intravenous antibiotics in labour if positive
Wolferstans are proud to support Group B Strep Support and are delighted that the new guidelines have incorporated some of their recommendations and are hopeful that this will reduce the numbers of babies and families that are affected by this infection.
By ensuring that all pregnant women are properly informed about group B Strep means that women will be able to make informed choices about their care and it is hoped that later this year a patient information leaflet prepared jointly by the charity Group B Strep Support and the RCOG will be readily available by the end of 2017.
The decision to offer all women in preterm labour intravenous antibiotics will help protect pre term babies and hopefully reduce the number of children who suffer catastrophic injuries as a result of this infection and the guidelines mean that the previous decision not to require ECM (Enriched Culture Medium) testing where mothers previously carried GBS bacteria has now been superceded and should ensure that mothers now receive either antibiotics or an ECM test.
Sadly the guidelines don’t go so far as to include specific GBS testing to all pregnant women, or even those that request it but these changes represent a huge development and the campaign to ensure that all mothers are routinely tested for GBS continues.