Testing for Group B Strep in pregnancy with Strepelle

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Have you heard of Group B Strep? It wasn’t something that I’d heard of at all during my first pregnancy, but about a year ago now I read Fiona Paddon’s story and campaign to raise awareness of Group B Strep and the importance of testing during pregnancy. Fiona sadly lost her son, Edward Gili just 9 days after his birth as a result of contracting the Group B Strep infection. I signed her petition and tracked it’s progress through parliament, and was very disappointed when it was decided that the NHS would not be making these tests a regular part of pregnancy testing.

 

What is Group B Strep?

Group B Strep is a common, natural bacteria carried by around 1 in 4 women, usually unknowingly and without symptoms. It can also come and go rather than being present all the time, and can be passed to your baby during the birth. The consequences of contracting an infection can be very serious; one in ten babies will die from the infection, and one in five babies infected will develop serious illnesses such as meningitis, septicaemia, and pneumonia. However, it can be easily tested for during late pregnancy and if a positive result is found, antibiotics can be administered during labour to treat any potential infection. It’s something which is entirely treatable, and a test that other European countries test for as routine during pregnancy, however in the UK the NHS do not currently offer antenatal testing for Group B Strep as standard.

 

Testing for Group B Strep with Strepelle

Strepelle is a highly sensitive and accurate private test that you can take at home and then send to a laboratory for analysis. Because Group B Strep can come and go, it’s recommended that the test is taken at around 35 weeks of pregnancy so that if you are found to be carrying the bacteria at that time you can access the required antibiotics during delivery. A positive result may affect your delivery options – at my hospital I have the choice of whether to deliver in the midwife led birth centre, or on the labour ward. A positive test for Group B Strep rules out delivering in the birth centre, as they don’t view your pregnancy as quite as straightforward anymore.

 

Strepelle Group B Strep Testing Kit

 

The test costs £39.99 and can be purchased direct from their website to arrive in the post. I was sent a test early on in my pregnancy so that I could share it on my blog, but it’s something that I was aware of and would have purchased myself anyway – I really do think it’s a small amount of money to pay, either for reassurance or to get the treatment that might save your baby. I waited until I’d reached 35 weeks, and then took the plunge.

The kit itself contains the instructions, two swabs, and a pre-paid envelope to send your samples for testing. I have to admit that until I read the instructions I didn’t realise there was a vaginal swab and a rectal swab, so that did come as a bit of a surprise! It’s also worth saying that the swab set comes with the swab stick, and a gel-filled tube to seal it in – you need to twist the lid off of the tube, a fact that escaped me initially and left me a bit puzzled. I do think the instructions could be much clearer on this point – I was concerned that I may have contaminated my sample by jabbing it at the sealed lid (although everything is contained in sterile packaging, so in theory it should have been fine).

You should receive your results within 3 working days of receipt of your samples, and you can choose how you would prefer to receive them – by email, text, phone or letter. I anticipated email would be quickest, so went for that option.

 

My Results

You are advised to send samples off between Monday-Thursday, to prevent the samples sitting in the postal system over the weekend, so I sent mine off on a Wednesday. I have to admit that I was getting a bit concerned about my result when I’d still not heard anything the following Wednesday, but sure enough, first thing Thursday morning my email popped into my inbox with my result. I’m really pleased to say that my result was negative, which means that I should still be fine to deliver in the birth centre as planned. But had my result been positive, I’d still have been relieved to have found that out, so that I could get the treatment to prevent passing the infection to my baby. It’s such a small price to pay for a test that might make all the difference.

 

Disclosure: I was sent this sample in exchange for my honest review. All words and opinions are my own.

 

  • Laura Dove

    £39.99 is nothing for the peace of mind that you have tested negative, it enrages me that the NHS don’t test for this, even more so given that it would save the lives of so many babies. One of my closest friends, who I met through losing Joseph, lost her son Brandon at just a few hours old due to Strep B, she had never even heard of it until then. Thankfully there are ways of private testing, and being able to test in your own home is invaluable. xx

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your friend losing her son too, I can only imagine how hard that must be. I know I’d never heard of it either when I had Max, it seems like it’s only recently that it’s started to become more widely known about. It’s not a huge cost, and I’d happily pay it for the peace of mind, or to get the right treatment, and had planned to before receiving this test. But I’m still shocked that such a common infection which can have such devastating results isn’t deemed necessary to test for on the NHS.

  • Motherhoodery

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had an issue with the invisible lid on the collection tube. I broke my swab trying to push it in the sealed tube and wrote to complain that it wasn’t mentioned in the instructions. They were really good and sent a whole new kit immediately. They should definitely update the booklet or add in a little piece of paper to highlight the tube has a lid! I also got a negative result, but really pleased I did the test to put my mind at rest.

    • I’m so glad it’s clearly not just me being a bit dim! The instructions said to just ‘slide it in’ – no mention of taking the lid off! Glad I didn’t force it in that case. I agree, I think a small update to make that clearer in the instructions would be so much better.