Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a naturally occurring bacterium, often found in the mother’s vagina, which can be dangerous for babies during labour and immediately after birth. The mothers carry this bacterium in the birth canal without any problem to themselves. Giving antibiotics to the mother during labour reduces the incidence of GBS infection passing on to the baby (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2012).
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) published ‘Summary of themes arising from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch maternity programme (April 2018-December 2019)’ in February 2020. This described eight themes for further exploration in order to highlight opportunities for system-wide learning; one of these themes was group B streptococcus (GBS).
This report, Severe brain injury, early neonatal death and intrapartum stillbirth associated with group B streptococcus infection, highlights a number of patient safety concerns and recommends that maternity care providers should consider the findings and make necessary changes to their local systems to ensure that mothers and babies receive care in line with national guidance. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will keep the theme of group B streptococcus under review and consider a future national investigation to explore this subject further.