Family And Lawyers Mark Group B Strep Awareness Month
A mum is campaigning for all pregnant women to be tested for a potentially fatal bacterial infection after it left her son with a serious brain injury.
Bethany Ford, 23, was tested for group B strep during her labour at Epsom Hospital. However, by the time the results testing positive for the condition came back, her son Grayson Harris was already born and admitted to the special baby care unit. The test found that group B strep had caused meningitis.
Grayson was discharged from hospital two weeks after his birth in December 2015. However, he was readmitted to hospital several weeks later. Following further tests he was diagnosed as having a brain injury and now has global development delay.
Bethany and her partner, Keith Harris, 32, of Mitcham, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their son’s care under Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital.
With their work ongoing, the family and their legal team have joined forces to mark Group B Strep Awareness Month.
Bethany and Keith are supporting calls for all women to be tested on the NHS for group B strep between 35 and 37 weeks into their pregnancy so appropriate care plans can be put in place to stop the infection being transmitted from mums to their babies.
Expert Opinion“More than three years on from Grayson’s birth, Bethany and Keith remain understandably very concerned by the issues he has faced in his life so far.
“While we are continuing to work to investigate their case, we believe that the awareness month is a fitting time to reflect on why testing around the issue of group B Strep should be improved.
“A simple test can be conducted to highlight whether and expectant mother is a carrier of the condition and her care plan can be adjusted to ensure intravenous antibiotics are provided throughout labour to prevent the infection being transmitted.
“Everything possible must be done to prevent this infection in babies.” Richard Kayser - Senior Associate Solicitor
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling birth injury cases
Bethany had experienced a routine pregnancy when her waters broke on 16 December, 2015. She was admitted to Epson Hospital and a nurse took a swab from her, which she subsequently learned was to test for group B Strep.
Grayson was born at around 10am the next day. He started grunting and yelping that afternoon. At around 6pm he was admitted to the special care baby unit. It was then confirmed that the Group B Strep test was positive and it had caused meningitis.
Grayson was discharged on New Year’s Eve but was readmitted to hospital following treatment but Bethany and her partner Keith Harris, 32, were devastated when he was admitted to Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children – run by the same NHS Trust as Epsom Hospital - in late January after a further recurrence of the infection. He was diagnosed with a brain injury and now has global development delay.
Now aged three, Grayson’s brain injury means he tends to be impulsive and can go from calm to angry very quickly. He has difficulty processing things and this has led him at times to self-harm through behaviour like pulling his own hair. He also struggles with communication issues and unsettled sleep.
Bethany said: “The first few weeks of Grayson’s life were incredibly traumatic and no parent should have to see their child suffer and struggle in the way he did. It is also difficult to take that following his birth it seemed like the doctors did not initially think there was any cause for concern.
“The older Grayson gets the more we are noticing just how far behind other children his age he is.
“We love Grayson so much and are determined to ensure that he gets the best from life. However, we think it is also vital that steps are taken to ensure that group B Strep testing is undertaken a lot earlier than it was in our case.
“This awareness month is an important time to talk about this issue and we believe that something needs to change.”
The charity Group B Strep Support has more information on the condition. Visit https://gbss.org.uk