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Raising awareness of a hidden killer.

Byline: Neil Atkinson Head of News

WHEN her rst grand-daughter died at birth, Marlene Parr and her family were devastated.

Holly James seemed to be the perfect baby but died after catching an infection called Group B Strep.

Despite her mother Helen work-work ing as a pharmacist, she had not heard of the form of Group B Streptococcus bacteria and had no symptoms before losing Holly.

Now Marlene is working to raise awareness of the cause and how simple steps can be taken to protect other pregnant mums after her family's own heartbreaking experience. She and fellow members of Stock-Stock smoor Village charity Ladies group raised around PS700 by hosting a luncheon at the weekend.

e money raised will be donated to the Group B Strep Support, which works to prevent the life-threatening infection in newborn babies. Marlene's daughter Helen was t and healthy throughout her pregnancy. She gave birth to her rst child Holly in 2002 but sadly the little girl was stillborn.

Marlene, who lives in Almondbury, said: "When she had her rst baby it was a perfect pregnancy.

"Holly was a full term baby at 8lbs and 2oz and she looked perfect - but she died at birth. It was absolutely devastating because it was her rst baby and our rst grandchild.

"We had a post-mortem and that's when we found out she had this Group B Strep infection. My daughter's a pharmacist in a hospital and had never heard of it."

Group B Streptococcus is a bacterium found in around 20-25% of people.

Although usually harmless, it can be passed from mother to her baby around birth.

e large majority of babies do not develop group B Strep infection, but for those who do, it can be lifethreatening.

Newborn babies aected by the bacteria could die or suer from septicaemia, pneumonia or meningitis while under three months of age.

e support charity was founded by Jane Plumb MBE after her baby died and she was determined to make people aware of the dangers of the silent killer.

Finding out whether a mum is carrying this is in pregnancy is simple and preventative antibiotics can be taken in pregnancy.

Marlene said: "A lot of countries around the world screen for it during a woman's pregnancy but in the UK they don't test for it.

"It's an easy test. A swab is taken and if it's positive antibiotics are given to the mother throughout labour to ward o the infection.

"If this test was available when Helen was pregnant with Holly it may have saved her."

After taking antibiotics with her next pregnancies Helen went on to give birth to two healthy children, 11-year-old William and Sasha who is aged nine.

e family now live in Perth, Western Australia, but Marlene still regularly visits Holly's grave at St James Church near Penistone.

Helen's husband Tim raised PS1,000 when he completed the Great North Run.

And Marlene hopes that routine testing will be introduced in the near future as the National Screening Committee is meeting later this year to discuss it.

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"A lot of countries screen for it during a woman's pregnancy but the UK don't test for it" Marlene Parr


Stocksmoor Ladies' charity lunch for Group B Strep. Marlene Parr (centre) |representing Strep B Support with e fund-raising organisers from left, Anne Caine, Janet Sheard, Suzanne Wright, Jackie Robinson, Joan Oversby and Janet Godfrey.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2015
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