To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of treating pregnant women who carry the group B streptococcus with antibiotics during pregnancy and childbirth on preventing the transmission of that infection to new-born babies.
Systematic reviews by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Cochrane Collaboration estimate that intravenous penicillin administered during labour is 80 – 85% effective in preventing early onset group B streptococcus (EOGBS). However both reviews reported that the evidence supporting this was poor. In addition no conclusions could be drawn on the effectiveness of antibiotics in labour in reducing the mortality rate from EOGBS.
Each year there will be about 450 babies affected by EOGBS and about 170,000 women who carry group B streptococcus (GBS) at the point of delivery. Most babies come into contact with GBS during labour and experience no ill effect and are born healthy. The balance of benefit and harm from treating women with preventive antibiotics in labour has not been explored in large studies.
There is currently no GBS Prevention Strategy, The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is actively considering the recommendation on antenatal screening for maternal GBS carriage. A public consultation is currently open and will close on the 25 January 2017. A recommendation is expected in February in 2017. The UK NSC welcomes input onto the consultation.