31/05/2016: For immediate release
Walking for Adam – In the Steps of a Giant
On 30th July local resident, Chris Cheshire, is participating in a 20 mile sponsored walk to support national charity Group B Strep Support. Chris is hoping his challenge will raise funds together with invaluable awareness of group B Strep infection in newborn babies.
The 20-mile charity walk called, ‘Walking for Adam – In the Steps of a Giant’ will start at The Huntsman in Little Wenlock at approx. 9am. Chris will be joined by a group of twelve fundraisers including his older son, George Cheshire, GBSS Chief Executive Jane Plumb M.B.E. and her family, along with other friends and family members.
Chris’s youngest son, Adam Cheshire, was born on 25 March 2011. Just eight hours later he was fighting for his life, infected by Group B Strep Meningitis, which is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening illness in newborn babies. Thankfully, Adam, is a fighter and survived the infection but, now five years old, he has been left profoundly disabled – hearing and visually impaired, autistic, asthmatic and developmentally delayed. The charity, Group B Strep Support (GBSS), campaigns for greater awareness of this devastating infection and wants to see every pregnant woman in the UK given accurate information about and offered testing for Group B Strep.
2016 marks the 20th anniversary of GBSS so on Saturday 30th July, Chris Cheshire, will be participating in a 20 mile sponsored walk, raising funds for the charity. The walk has been planned to honour the spirit of the local legend of “The Giant and the Cobbler”, which shows us that, with courage and ingenuity, even the biggest obstacles can be overcome! The walk will begin and end in Little Wenlock, and encompasses The Wrekin, The Ercall and Ironbridge.
Chris says, “GBS can have devastating consequences for families, it has changed my son’s life, and that of our family, forever. My wife and I are still horrified that GBS can be wholly prevented, but presently, the NHS are choosing not to test women for it, or to offer accurate information about it. Jane and her team do a fantastic job raising awareness, campaigning for change, and offering support to families affected by this deadly, yet preventable infection. I hope that in raising funds for the charity, this walk will say a ‘Giant’ thank you to Jane and her team, as they work tirelessly campaigning for change and providing support to families like ours, who have been so devastated by GBS.”
Group B Strep is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies and meningitis in babies up to the age of 3 months. Carried by between 20-30% of women, the group B Strep bacteria can pass from a pregnant woman to baby around birth with potentially devastating consequences for the newborn baby.
On average in the UK, one baby a day develops group B Strep infection; one baby a week dies from group B Strep infection; and one survivor a fortnight is left with long term mental and physical problems including cerebral palsy. Yet, unlike women in most developed countries, in the UK pregnant women are rarely told about it by their health professionals and even more rarely offered testing.
Group B Strep infection in newborn babies is usually preventable and is being successfully prevented in many other developed countries where women are routinely offered group B Strep testing late in pregnancy. In these countries, rates of group B Strep infection in newborn babies have fallen by 71% to 86%. This simple and inexpensive test late in pregnancy can detect the bacteria, allowing preventative antibiotics to be given to the mother during labour, minimising the risk of group B Strep infection in the newborn baby.
National charity Group B Strep Support campaigns for much greater awareness of this devastating infection among mums-to-be and wants to see every pregnant woman in the UK given accurate information about group B Strep as a routine part of her antenatal care, coupled with a national screening programme offering testing for group B Strep at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy.
Jane Plumb MBE, chief executive of Group B Strep Support adds, “Every year, more babies are suffering avoidable group B Strep infections – sepsis and meningitis. Most of these infections are preventable and in other developed countries would be prevented. The UK Government needs to act now to protect newborn babies from this devastating infection. Expectant parents should be given accurate information about group B Strep, women should be offered good quality testing for group B Strep carriage late in pregnancy, and those carrying group B Strep should be offered antibiotics during labour. Then we will see the numbers of families suffering the appalling effects of avoidable group B Strep infection in their babies fall dramatically, as it has in other countries.”
To sponsor Chris, please visit www.justgiving.com/walkingforadam-2 and for more information on Adam’s story, please visit www.walkingforadam.blogspot.co.uk
For comment or greater detail:
Jane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive, Group B Strep Support
Tel: 01444 416176 (offfice hours)
For free information on group B Strep, please visit http://www.gbss.org.uk
Notes to Editors:
· Group B Strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies and meningitis in babies up to the age of 3 months, passing from mother to baby during labour and birth.
· 20% to 30% of women carry group B Strep, usually without harm or symptoms. Identifying pregnant women likely to be carrying group B Strep infection and giving them intravenous antibiotics (usually penicillin) during labour can reduce group B Strep infection in newborn babies born to women carrying group B Strep by up to 90%.
· By 2014, the number of newborn babies developing group B Strep infection had risen by 33% since the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2003 prevention guidelines were introduced.
· Even with the best medical care one in 10 babies of babies sick with group B Strep infection dies, one in 20 of the survivors of group B Strep infection suffer long-term problems and five in 10 survivors of group B Strep meningitis suffer long-term mental and physical problems, including cerebral palsy.
· Routine testing of all pregnant women in the UK for group B Strep carriage is not currently recommended by the UK National Screening Committee.
· The rate of group B Strep infections in newborn babies per live birth is higher now in the UK than it was in 2003, when the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists introduced their risk-based guidelines. These guidelines (updated 2012) were expected to reduce the incidence of early-onset group B Strep infection significantly – by up to 60%. This has not happened (see Data Series).
· Carrying group B Strep at delivery is the key risk factor for group B Strep infection in babies. Determining whether a pregnant woman carries group B Strep late in pregnancy (35-37 weeks) is a better indicator of a baby’s risk of developing the infection than risk factors. Other countries which routinely screen have seen falls in the rate of these infections in newborn babies by up to 86%.
· Providing the test on the NHS would cost £11 per test. Private, home-testing kits are available for around £35. Visit Testing.
A report on Group B Strep - Preventable Death and Disability caused by group B Strep, summarises the pros and cons of the current group B Strep prevention in the UK. http://www.gbss.org.uk/filepool/GBSSReport_2013.pdf
Charity Group B Strep Support is the UK’s dedicated charity to preventing life-threatening infection in newborn babies, providing information and support to families affected by group B Strep, and their health professionals. It is calling for every pregnant woman in the UK to be routinely tested to prevent unnecessary tragedies. Group B Strep Support is supported by an independent medical advisory panel.