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Medisave Professional

Group B Streptococcus Screening Test

Group B Streptococcus Screening Test

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"Group B Strep Bacteria kills 75 newborn British babies a year. The NHS does not routinely test for it and up to nine out of  ten pregnant women have 'never heard' about Group B Strep bacteria which infects 700 newborn babies each year in Britain...  A further 40 babies are left with serious long-term mental or physical problems, yet Group B Strep is usually preventable with antibiotic treatment for the mother during labour".*
What is Group B Streptococcus (GBS)?
GBS is a common bacterium -  it does not cause harm and does not require treatment.  Approximately 25% of women of childbearing age carry GBS in the vaginal-rectal area at any one time.   Babies who develop GBS infection are usually exposed to GBS in the womb although this can only happen during labour, birth, or after birth.  Many thousands of babies are exposed to GBS with no ill effects - just why some babies are susceptible to the bacteria and develop infection while others don't is not clear.  Group B Streptococcus is the commonest cause of bacterial infection in newborn babies in the UK.
Most GBS infections can be prevented by giving all women carrying GBS intravenous antibiotics at the onset of labour, as well as to those delivering prematurely or with a history of GBS. This recommended use of intravenous antibiotics reduces the likelihood of early-onset GBS infection developing in a baby born to a woman carrying GBS at the time of delivery from around 1 in 300 to less than 1 in 6000. 
Detecting GBS
Testing pregnant women for GBS is not routinely available on the NHS but a sensitive test is available from The Doctors Laboratory (a fully CPA accredited laboratory). Testing  for GBS is undertaken in the laboratory by using an enriched culture medium (ECM). Two swabs (lower vaginal and rectal) taken at 35-37 weeks’ gestation to best predict colonisation with GBS around the time of delivery.

How to order your Test Kit
On ordering, your test kit is sent in the post to you.  There is NO CHARGE for this sample pack (which includes FREE postage).  Inside this pack are two swabs, instructions for taking the swabs, a sample taking instruction sheet, and a payment form, which you complete and return at the time of sending your swabs to The Doctors Laboratory.  The inclusive charge for this service is £55.00.  You can ask your midwife/GP to take the samples (they may charge for this service) or if you prefer to take samples yourself, this is fine; many women do this, without difficulty.
When you complete the request form enclosed with the sample pack, you will see that there is an option to receive your result by SMS Text Message.   A GBS GREEN message means the result for GBS is NEGATIVE and intravenous antibiotics are not needed. A GBS RED message means the results for GBS is POSITIVE during your pregnancy and means that intravenous (not oral) antibiotics should be offered from the onset of labour or waters breaking, and then 4-Hourly until delivery.  Turnaround time for your results will be within three days of receipt of your swabs in the laboratory.  The recommended time for sample taking is 35 - 37 weeks. 
For further information and current information please visit the Group B Strep Support

With thanks to The Doctors Laboratory for their help and support.

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