A new kit has been launched that will allow pregnant women to test for Group B Streptococcus at home.
Strepelle is a home-to-laboratory test, which aims to reduce the risk of pregnant mothers infecting their babies with disease.
Up to 1 in 5 of all pregnant women will be carriers of Group B Strep in the birth canal and the bacterium can be passed during labour to their baby. One in 5 newborns who are infected with Group B Strep suffer from serious, life-changing illnesses such as meningitis, septicaemia or pneumonia, which can have life-long effects such as brain damage, hearing loss and sight loss. One in 10 babies with the infection will die from it. In the UK, 70 babies a year die from Group B Strep infection.
The only way of knowing if a pregnant woman is carrying the bacterium is by having a laboratory test. The highly accurate Strepelle test (www.strepelle.com) will determine whether the pregnant woman is carrying the bacterium.
In the UK, pregnant women are not routinely offered testing for Group B Strep by the NHS, unlike in many other developed countries.
Strepelle is a simple sample-to-laboratory test, which aims to identify the bacterium during pregnancy, allowing the woman to be treated with antibiotics during labour, and thus protecting the baby from the risk of infection.
Strepelle was created in partnership with midwives and was launched at the recent Baby Show in London. It was designed to make laboratory testing for Group B Strep more available and convenient, save babies lives, and prevent heart-breaking devastation in families. The test is for use from 35 weeks pregnant. The home-to-laboratory test can be purchased online or in store for £39.99 and contains everything that is needed to provide a sample to the laboratory: instructions, two swabs and a pre-paid envelope. The results will arrive within 3 days of receipt of the sample, either by letter, text or email, whichever is best for the receiver. If a woman is a carrier, all she needs to do is let her doctor or midwife know, and antibiotics will be administered intravenously during labour.
Brendan Farrell, CEO of Strepelle, said: “The launch of Strepelle will significantly reduce the many risks associated with Group B Strep in newborn babies across the UK. Once Group B Strep is detected it will enable healthcare professionals to tailor a care plan to expectant mothers, ensuring that the correct treatment is administered during labour, which will prevent babies from becoming exposed to the potentially harmful bacterium.”