In October 2017 Grace and her husband received the heartbreaking news that their baby Violet was delivered stillborn caused by Group B Strep (GBS) infection. It is estimated that less than 50% of pregnant women in the UK are aware of GBS, a natural and symptomless bacteria which is carried by 20-25% of women. GBS is usually harmless to the mother but in some cases it can cause life-threatening infection to the newborn. Currently in the UK 2 babies a day develop GBS infection, 1 baby dies from GBS and 1 baby survives with long term disability. Routine screening for GBS is not available on the NHS, yet studies show a significant reduction in GBS infection for the countries who do routinely screen.

Grace Banham

Whilst I was in labour I was told I had become very ill with an infection which led into Sepsis. Sepsis is a life threatening condition which causes things such as organ failure and death. My infection had not yet been detected.

I had a straight forward and easy pregnancy no one could understand why I had become so dramatically ill in such a short period of time. It came to light a couple of days later that my swabs had shown up with Group B Strep, a common infection which is carried in 20-25% of pregnant women. I had never heard of this infection and not one person had ever mentioned or talked to me about it. The Group B Strep was so dangerous it caused me and Violet to both become rapidly ill and stop Violets heart from beating.

Once I was out of hospital I researched Group B Strep and Sepsis to find out more. Group B Strep Support was the first thing I spotted and the only one. I couldn’t believe that I had been told whilst in hospital that they don’t routinely test for this infection as the infection can ‘come & go’ although I was reading on gbss.org.uk that it CAN be tested in late pregnancy to give a more accurate result. Now my main aim is to raise awareness of Group B Strep to hopefully prevent this happening further, make other parents aware, encourage parents to buy the home test which can be found at Strepelle.com and also fight for the NHS to routinely test for GBS in late pregnancy.

My petition which I have set up to fight for this can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/218887

Grace has set up a Facebook GBS awareness page at:  https://www.facebook.com/coloursofarainbow/

You can purchase your Group B Strep test here: www.strepelle.com