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Strep B campaigners lobby committee

Group B Strep campaigners have met with the Assembly health committee at Stormont to discuss their campaign to raise awareness of the killer bacterial infection and tell their stories of their sadness at losing children to the infection.

Their appeal was for a simple swab test for pregnant women to ensure they were not carrying the bacteria that cause this infection and therefore saving lives.

The swab test could be bought privately for just over £30 and women who have the infection (which is quite common among men and women) can be given anti-biotics via a drip during labour to minimise the effects of the bacteria on their child.

Andy and Jillian Boyd, from Portaferry, but who now live in east Belfast, told the committee of how they lost their first child, Erin, some seven months ago and how devastated they were to lose a healthy baby. They said when they discovered the reason for the death and how it could have been avoided they were angry that no information or precautions were offered to them prior to giving birth.

Alderman McCarthy, who is on the committee said: “High ranking officials from the Department of Health and they also heard the plea for the introduction to all expectant mother so the test that would ensure babies would survive and be treated.”

He expressed disappointment that the officials, while sympathetic to the test, stated they still had not received concrete evidence that what was being asked for was necessary.

“A review is ongoing and more evidence is due before the end of the year and then decisions can be made.”

He asked officials to make more information available to pregnant women so they can make a choice themselves.

Belfast Telegraph