A FAMILY have spoken out over their disgust following a Government u-turn which could put 80 babies’ lives at risk a year, according to a charity.
Stretton mum Suzi Rudd lost her daughter Penelope to group B streptococcus (GBS) in 2005 when the ‘beautiful’ tot was just 36 hours old.
It was only after the former dental nurse and her husband Aaron researched the condition they found her death could have been avoided with a simple swab-test during pregnancy.
A specific swab for the infection was due from January 1 this year on request but charity GBS Support said the Government has now changed their minds.
Penelope’s family have said they are angry more than eight years on from her death, mums are still not being informed of the condition and want to know why.
Suzi, aged 38, said: “I was amazed it had never been mentioned to me and there are so many mums who still don’t know about it.
“Out of 10 of my friends who have bought the test online from GBS Support after I told them about it, six were positive.
“People still come up to me in the village with their babies and say thanks so much for making me aware.
“Losing Penelope is not something we could get over in six months, it’s changed our lives forever.”
Suzi, who is also mum to Olivia, aged 10, Poppy, aged seven, and Zachary, aged five, said she suddenly noticed Penelope was not breathing after breastfeeding her in the early hours of Boxing Day following her birth on Christmas Eve.
After administering CPR for 20 minutes while they waited for an ambulance, Penelope was rushed to hospital but the family were later told she had sadly died.
A police investigation then had to take place and 10 days later the family were finally told the cause of Penelope’s death.
Suzi added: “They just had the long medical term for group b strep on a piece of paper from the coroner and said we were exonerated.
“We had to research what it was ourselves which was when I found out it could have been prevented.
“I had a high temperature during labour which should have been a red flag to doctors.
“I can’t believe it’s taken so long for things to change and every day that goes by there could be another death or baby born deaf or blind.”
Since then the family have been supporting the GBS charity’s campaign which is calling for information and routine antenatal testing for GBS to be made freely available in the NHS.
Penelope’s granddad Debroy Parrington said: “Suzi’s face was engulfed in sadness and Christmas will never be the same as a result of this avoidable tragedy.
“To not even be given the opportunity of a test is criminal.
“We can’t understand why and want to know who is making these decisions to condemn a newborn child to death or being severely disabled.”
Visit gbss.org for information or to order a group b strep test.
WE asked Public Health England (PHE) why there had been a u-turn and the reason mums were not being informed about group b strep.
A spokesman said the former Health Protection Agency (HPA) was asked in 2012 to explore whether a more accurate test for GBS, called enriched culture medium (ECM), should be made available when there was a clinical indication for testing and in which circumstances.
Dr Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England, added: “This work concluded that no indication for testing high-risk women using ECM methods have been evaluated or recommended within current clinical guidance.
“However research into the use of tests for GBS carriage in high risk clinical circumstances are currently being considered by research funders and, if conducted, will cast more light on this complicated area.
“PHE takes the matter of GBS very seriously and, together with its partners, continues to work hard to improve the situation.”
He added the ‘evolving situation’ in vaccine development was being monitored and a national study of GBS in babies would also begin shortly.