A MOTHER whose newborn baby defied the odds after being at death’s door is calling for more to be done to make people aware of a potentially fatal condition that has a simple cure if spotted in time.
Justine Baker and her husband were twice told to say goodbye to their son as he spent his first few weeks fighting for his life.
But young Harrison won through in his battle against the Group B Strep infection – which is passed on by pregnant women during childbirth – and turns six this month, which is GBS Awareness month.
Local councillor Mrs Baker said: “Having to say goodbye to your son twice was simply beyond horrendous and any parent’s worst nightmare.
“However, we were extremely lucky and Harrison is now a happy and healthy little boy.”
Mrs Baker said GBS, which is similar to meningitis, is harmless to mothers but one of the biggest killers of newborn babies in this country.
She added: “The UK is currently one of only a handful of countries across the world that doesn’t offer women a routine test for this infection during pregnancy.
“When Harrison was born, I’d never heard of it, despite him being my second child.
“He’s only one of a handful of children to get the infection twice and survive.
“After having my son and then finding out the horror we went though could have been prevented if I’d been offered a simple test, made us angry and very upset - especially when we discovered that if I’d known I was a carrier I’d have been given antibiotics in labour and then he’d have more than likely been OK.
“Instead we had to watch him fight for his life for his first 10 weeks.
“Within hours of being born he looked poorly and if it hadn't been for the brilliant neonatal team, then he’d almost certainly not be with us now.”
Mrs Baker has been campaigning to raise awareness of GBS and advises pregnant women to demand the £30 test.
“I’d hate any parent to go through what we went through,” she added.
“I work closely with the charity Group B Strep Support (GBSS) in raising awareness of this infection and pushing the National Screening Committee to change their policy of not routinely offering women the test.
“If countries such as Lithuania, Japan, Australia, Poland, USA, France and Canada can offer women the test why on earth can't we in the UK?"
*Find out more about GBS by clicking on the GBSS related link on this story.