July is Group B Strep Awareness Month.
The annual campaign is led by Group B Strep Support, a UK charity which aims to eradicate group B Strep infections in babies.
Throughout the month they bring people together to raise awareness and highlight the importance of education and research in this field.
What’s the connection between Group B Strep and meningitis?
Group B Strep, also known as GBS or Strep B, is a type of bacteria that lives naturally in our bodies and usually comes and goes without showing symptoms or causing any harm, unless it enters a part of the body that’s free from bacteria. If this type of bacteria infects the lining around the brain, it causes it to swell, resulting in meningitis.
Young babies are at greatest risk of meningitis caused by GBS as it can be passed from mother to baby before or during birth, or through contact with adults who handle the baby.
One in five pregnant women carry the bacteria in the gut or vagina. Most babies that come into contact with the bacteria are born healthy. But some do become very poorly.
Why is Group B Strep Awareness Month important?
GBS is a leading cause of meningitis and sepsis in newborn babies.
There were estimated to be nearly 400,000 cases of GBS disease in babies worldwide in 2020.
Around 1 in 4 were estimated to have died and around 1 in 8 survivors were estimated to have been left with a significant impairment like seizures, problems with movement or learning difficulties.
Many expectant parents may not know about the bacteria or the potential impact it could have on their baby.
Group B Strep Awareness Month aims to save lives by reaching as many new parents as possible, making them aware so they can speak to their healthcare professional about protecting their baby.
To find out more about who is at risk of GBS meningitis, how it can be prevented and the signs to look for, check out our GBS meningitis information page which has everything you need to know on this vital issue.
What can I do to support Group B Strep Awareness Month?
You can find out more about the work of Group B Strep Support and how you can get involved in the campaign by visiting their website.