'I found out about deadly bug by chance'

January 31 2017

A FISHPONDS mum says a trip to tint her eyebrows helped save her and her baby’s lives.

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A FISHPONDS mum says a trip to tint her eyebrows helped save her and her  baby’s lives.

Angela Belassie was 40 weeks pregnant and unaware her waters had broken when she popped in for a beauty treatment.

But beautician Audrey Jones, herself 39 weeks pregnant, informed her that a small trickle - and not just the commonly believed ‘gush’ - could be a sign of waters breaking. 

Unknown to her, Angela was carrying Group B Strep (GBS) -the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in new-born babies. Angela, 39, and her unborn child developed septicaemia and had to undergo an emergency C-section and receive intravenous antibiotics.

Today Angela and her husband Alex have a healthy daughter called Amelia. But they fear it could have been much worse had it not been for Audrey’s intervention.

Angela, who runs a PR firm, said: “I will be forever grateful to Audrey and believe she helped save both mine and Amelia’s lives. I had a trickle on and off for a few days, but had no idea my waters had broken. If they are broken for a longer period of time there is a higher risk of infection. I dread to think what could have happened if I had left it any longer, without the constant monitoring and medical assistance from all the staff at the hospital, who were great.”

Angela, who conceived through IVF at Southmead, now wants other women to be aware of GBS. The normally harmless bacteria, carried by 25 per cent of women, can be passed to infants during labour and childbirth. But they can be passed from mother to baby around birth and cause blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis. In one in 19 babies who develop GBS in the first six days (early onset GBS) of their life will die. Some babies who survive are left with long-term disabilities - physical, mental or both.

The NHS does not screen for the infection and the UK National Screening Committee (NSC) recommends against it. 

A simple swab test, which costs around £10, is routinely offered in most developed countries, including France, Spain and Australia.

Group B Strep Support say giving antibiotics to the mother during labour could reduce GBS infection in newborn babies by 60 per cent - and deaths from GBS in babies by 70 per cent.

For more information on Group B Strep Support and testing visit www.gbss.org.uk/