Newham Hospital’s maternity unit is taking part in a trial that aims to improve routine testing for group B Strep (GBS) during pregnancy.
GBS is a bacteria typically found in the bottom or vagina, which affects 20-40% of women. Having GBS does not cause infection or illness in adults – in fact, most people who have it don’t know they do as it causes no symptoms.
However, it is the most common cause of infection in new-born babies and can cause conditions including meningitis and pneumonia. This happens if the bacteria is transmitted to the baby during around labour or after birth.
Right now, pregnant women and birthing people are tested if they are deemed to be at risk of carrying GBS (e.g. they have a fever during labour). This trial is designed to establish is testing all pregnant women and birthing people is better than the current approach. It will also compare two different testing approaches – testing at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy versus testing in labour – to find out which is better.
Ferha Saeed, a consultant obstetrician and the lead investigator for the trial at Newham Hospital, said: “While we know that between 20-40% of women can have GBS, research is still needed to understand the best way to prevent it being passed on to the baby.
“That’s why I’m so excited that this GBS3 trial is taking place and that our Newham Hospital maternity team are part of it – the results from it will provide valuable guidance for how we might roll out routine GBS testing for all pregnant women and birthing people in Newham and across the UK, and in turn to timely treat it.”