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Streptococcus: Pregnancy

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance his Department provides to health professionals on implementation in maternity units of the guidelines issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for preventing Group B streptococcus infection in newborn babies; (292168)

(2) if he will take steps to ensure that pregnant women are informed about Group B streptococcus as part of their antenatal care.

Current guidance for obstetricians, midwives and neonatologists is provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) which published its green-top guideline No. 36 on the prevention of early-onset neonatal group B streptococcus disease in November 2003. In 2005, the RCOG, in collaboration with the National Screening Committee, established a national audit to evaluate practice in United Kingdom obstetric units against the recommendations of the guideline. The audit published in January 2007, reported that current practice followed the established patterns of care described in the RCOG guideline.

The Department supports the Maternity Standards published by the RCOG in 2008, which state that maternity services should comply with evidence-based guidelines for the provision of high-quality clinical care.

Information for women on group B streptococcus is contained in “The Pregnancy Book” a guide to health pregnancy, labour and giving birth, life with your new baby, which is given to all pregnant women during their antenatal care. A copy has already been placed in the Library. Information is also available on NHS Direct and NHS Choices website. Women who are concerned are advised to talk to their doctor or midwife.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment has been made of the implications for his policy of the most recent evidence on testing pregnant women for Group B streptococcus. (292170)

The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) reviewed the policy for screening for Group B Streptococcus in pregnancy in March 2009 and concluded that the evidence did not support its introduction. The UK NSC will review its position on screening in three year’s time unless any significant evidence emerges which suggests this should be undertaken earlier.