Experts say neonatal infection trial will ‘fail’ unless government intervenes


Experts warn that clinical trials to test pregnant women for group B strep – the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns – will fail unless the government intervenes.

About 80 hospitals are needed to move the case forward, but only 32 have pledged to do so, with a September registration deadline.

The case is being funded by the National Institutes of Health Research and will look into whether screening women for Group B straps reduces the risk of child mortality or harm.

Now Dr Jane Plumb, chief executive of Group B Strap Support, who lost her son Theo to an infection, is urging the government and NHS England to intervene to ensure the trial goes ahead. Go ahead

He said: “The fact is that unless 48 more hospitals sign up for this trial, it will fail.

There is little evidence that the case is headed for failure.

The government is awaiting the outcome of the trial to determine whether pregnant women should be tested for Group B straps.

“It simply came to our notice then that this case was going to fail.

“We need more hospitals on board and we need to make sure that the investment in this trial is not wasted.

“It’s about saving children’s lives, and it really is now or never.”

Teddy, the son of Olympian Ivan Thomas, has fallen ill with Group B Streep and is seeking further action. / PA Archives

According to the charity, several local MPs have approached the hospitals themselves after the public urged them to do so.

Dr Plumb said: “We are all interested in the results, but unless enough hospitals participate, the trial will fail.

“What are the government and the NHS doing to ensure the success of this trial?”

According to the charity, the cost limit for additional treatment – the amount a trust has to put into research before it can begin paying – has also been reduced, meaning the cost should not prevent the trust from signing up. ۔

Statistics show that on average two children in the UK develop GBS infection every day, resulting in one death a week and one child is left with a long-term disability.

Many other countries, including the United States, are already screening for the infection.

The new experiment – called GBS3 – is being led by researchers at the University of Nottingham.

These trials and findings are important in stopping the rising tide of GBS infection in children in the UK.

It remains to be seen whether testing will reduce the risk of infection in newborns compared to current strategies in the UK.

The current strategy is to offer antibiotics during pregnancy to women who are considered to be at increased risk of developing Group B strep infection in their baby.

Two different tests will be performed – a lab-based test three to five weeks before a woman’s due date and a bedside test at the start of labor.

Dr. Carol Baker, whose work led to the introduction of Universal GBS Testing in the United States, said: The rate of Group B strep infection, which started early, has since dropped to more than 80%.

“Other countries have seen similar declines, but UK rates are rising.

“These tests and results are important in preventing the rising tide of GBS infection in children in the UK.”

Olympian runner Evan Thomas MBE, whose first child feels sick with Teddy Group B, said: “Watching Teddy covered in tubes and fighting for his life in intensive care was the worst experience of my life so far. ۔

“Fortunately, teddy bears have recovered well from their Group B strep infection, but I know they are less fortunate to have children who have died or survived a life-changing disability.

“That’s why I’m so excited about the success of the GBS3 trial, so other families don’t have to go through what I and many others have.”

“It’s outrageous that in 2022, children are getting sick and dying from preventable infections.”

The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have been contacted for comment.