The Scottish Government’s new Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has told Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant that a trial for strep B’ - Group B Streptococcus (GBS) - testing for all pregnant women has now been recommended.
Mrs Grant, who represents the Highlands and Islands, wrote to the previous Health Secretary on behalf of North Uist resident Ada Campbell who supported a Scotland-wide petition asking for the introduction of the test in 2015.
Mrs Campbell was keen to know if there had been any progress with bringing in the new test to avoid the number of tragic neo-natal deaths due to Strep B infections - around 340 new born babies per year in the UK die from it.
Mrs Campbell’s daughter had a Strep B infection as a young child and ended up with a serious kidney condition but fortunately made full recovery, although still needed check-ups at Yorkhill Children’s Hospital.
“It is a really nasty bug and having been through this with my daughter I know how dangerous it can be, especially in the case of new born babies,” said Mrs Campbell.
“A friend in Uist went through this recently with a new born grandchild on the mainland having to be placed in intensive care.
“It is good news that there has been movement at last and I do hope that this will lead to lives of children being saved throughout the country.”
Mrs Grant welcomed the new information but stressed that more detail was needed about where the trial would be based and how it would be run.
She said: “I’m looking forward to the details of the announcement later this year and do hope that the trial will be in Scotland and rolled out across our region. Anything which can save lives and stop the distressing death of a new-born baby has to be welcomed with open arms.”
Campaigners lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament in December 2015 calling on the Scottish Parliament to ensure all pregnant women receive information about Group B Strep and are given the option to be tested.
It is estimated that around one in every four pregnant women have strep B bacteria in their reproductive or digestive system and there is a small risk that it can pass to the baby during childbirth. Most babies exposed to strep B will be unaffected, but around 1 in every 2,000 babies can become infected.