Grieving Hartlepool mother calls for routine testing after her baby died from bacteria infection

Hayley Keane cradles baby Simon John who died just three days old
Hayley Keane cradles baby Simon John who died just three days old
2
Have your say

Proud mum Hayley Keane cradles her newborn baby tenderly in her arms – but just moments after this picture was taken, he died at just three days old.

Hayley, who is still grieving, lost baby Simon John Foster in December after she contracted a bacteria while she was pregnant, which led to meningitis.

Mum Hayley Keane and partner Simon Foster celebratingthe arrival of baby SImon John before tragdey struck

Mum Hayley Keane and partner Simon Foster celebratingthe arrival of baby SImon John before tragdey struck

Now the 26-year-old mum is campaigning for the NHS to introduce routine screening for the Group B Streptococcus.

Hayley, from Hartlepool, believes it could have saved baby Simon’s life and would prevent countless other tragic deaths.

“My first cuddle was my last cuddle with him,” she said. “People need to understand the devastation and tragedy this causes by something that can be swabbed for.

“He was so wanted. When I was pregnant I ate organically and did everything I possibly could to maintain a healthy pregnancy and at the last hurdle it all went horribly wrong. It went wrong because of a bacteria, something in this day and age you don’t believe will happen because of the medicine and equipment they’ve got.”

Baby Simon John Foster who succumbed to meningitis after mum Hayley Keane contracted Group B Streptococcus while pregnant

Baby Simon John Foster who succumbed to meningitis after mum Hayley Keane contracted Group B Streptococcus while pregnant

Hayley, who lives on the Headland, gave birth to Simon, named after his dad Simon Foster, 39, by C-section but after 10 hours he suffered seizures and was cared for in an incubator.

Despite the best efforts of medics, he could not be saved.

She told her heartbreaking story to the Mail in an effort to raise awareness of Group B Streptococcus, which is a bacteria present in many people, often with no ill effects.

But Hayley has added her voice to growing calls for routine screening of the bacterium late in pregnancy when, if found, can be tackled with antibiotics.

Hayley, also mum to Alfie Jack Keane, who is nine, and seven-year-old Annalise Keane, said: “In America it is mandatory, whereas in the UK it’s not, but it kills 70 babies a year and unfortunately mine was one of them.

“How can you put a price on a baby’s life? The NHS will fund unnecessary boob jobs but this is something that can save a life.

“If I had been tested I believe my baby would still be here. They have actually got the power to prevent this, that’s the most agonising part.”

She said even if Strep B does not claim the tot’s life it can still leave devastating consequences that the baby has to live with or the rest of their life.

Hayley also wants to let mums-to-be know that private screening is available.

“What’s £30 odd for the sake of having a baby in your arms?” she said.

The UK National Screening Committee does not recommend screening for all pregnant women as tests cannot predict if mothers will have the infection by the time they go into labour.

There is also said to be insufficient evidence to show it is less harmful to give women antibiotics in labour to outweigh the possible harm.

A usually harmless bacterium

Group B Streptococcus is a bacterium found in around 20-25 per cent of people. Although usually harmless, it can be passed from mother to baby around birth.

It is the UK’s most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborns and of meningitis in babies up to three months.

At least 500 babies a year in the UK are infected with group B Strep of which, one in 10 die, and one in 20 survivors suffer long-term problems.

Hayley Keane is supporting charity Group B Strep Support’s call for every low-risk pregnant woman to be offered a test at 35-37 weeks and when not freely available, for all pregnant women to be told the tests are available privately.

Hayley said: “I don’t want Simon’s short life to have gone unnoticed and not make a difference. I want to save other women and babies going through the same thing that I did.”

For more details, visit the Group B Strep Support website at www.gbss.org.uk