Major UK Clinical Trial for Group B Strep Screening Announced

Published on: 14/05/2019

A major UK clinical trial for Group B Strep screening in pregnant women has been announced. The trial will take place in 80 hospitals across the UK and aims to improve the prevention of potentially life threatening  infection caused by Group Strep B.

MAMA Academy is delighted to hear of this trial taking place. Group B Strep remains the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborn babies. This ground-breaking trial hopes to resolve the ongoing debate as to which prevention strategy would be better for the UK and we very much look forward to the results.

The £2.8 million NIHR-funded study will measure the effectiveness of two tests to identify group B Strep bacteria in late pregnancy or labour compared with the current approach of identifying pregnant women with ‘risk factors’ for their newborn developing the infection.

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said:

“We want the NHS to be the safest place in the world to have a baby and we will halve the number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths over the next five years through the Long Term Plan. I am delighted the NIHR is funding this large-scale clinical trial to allow us to better understand how we can prevent the leading cause of serious infection in new-born babies”

The UK does not currently routinely test pregnant women for group B Strep despite it being the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies, causing pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. The bacteria is present in approximately one on five women and can be passed unknowingly to a baby during birth. In the vast majority of cases a baby will be unaffected, however one in 1750 babies will develop a group B Strep infection. One in 19 of these babies will die and one in 14 survivors will be left with a long term disability.

Find out more about group B Strep here. If you are worried about group B Strep, or want to find out more, please visit Group B Strep Support.