A Suffolk mum is calling for mothers to be tested for a life-threatening infection after her newborn baby was left brain damaged at just a few days old.

Rebecca Murcott, from Cockfield near Bury St Edmunds, has said the ordeal has been like "living in a nightmare" after the symptoms were not picked up at West Suffolk Hospital.

The family is advocating for widespread screening for women giving birth to avoid complications of the infection, as routine testing is not currently offered by the NHS.

Ms Murcott was discharged after giving birth to baby Albie on Boxing Day, despite the fact that he had a grunt, which is a sign of group B streptococcus (GBS) infection.

East Anglian Daily Times: An MRI scan when Albie was a few days old showed he was brain damaged.An MRI scan when Albie was a few days old showed he was brain damaged. (Image: Rebecca Murcott)

The infection is caused by streptococcal bacteria, which is very common in both men and women, and usually harmless, but can lead to life-threatening complications such as sepsis or meningitis.

Two days later, the family took Albie to A&E as he was refusing feeding and making retching noises.

Staff attempted to send him home again with a suspected chest infection but Ms Murcott refused to do this as he had not been fed.

He was then given antibiotics for signs of an infection. The same evening, Albie's condition deteriorated and he started to have seizures.

Later tests confirmed he had group B Strep meningitis, involving the swelling of the brain and spinal cord, and an MRI scan showed he was brain damaged.

East Anglian Daily Times: Rebecca Murcott with baby Albie.Rebecca Murcott with baby Albie. (Image: Rebecca Murcott)

Ms Murcott said: "I feel like we are living in a nightmare. Even though Albie was taken to hospital within 48 hours, it was too late for him to recover.

"He is in hospital and is better than we ever thought he would be, considering we thought he might pass away. He opens his eyes and moves.

"He may still not make it, and if he does, he will have severe difficulties.

"In my opinion, he should not have been discharged as he did have a grunt, which is one of the symptoms.

"If antibiotics had been administered, there would have been a much smaller risk of the damage he suffered."

East Anglian Daily Times: Albie was born on Boxing Day 2023Albie was born on Boxing Day 2023 (Image: Rebecca Murcott)

Her mother Jeanette added: "We just want so much more awareness as many young mums do not know about Strep B, so more we talk about it, the better.

"We used to swab for Strep B many years ago, but what we have learned since is that the body can intermittently carry the bacteria.

"If they swab just before going into labour, antibiotics can be administered during labour. If they had done that, this situation with Albie could have been avoided."

A spokesperson for the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust say the trust follows national guidance regarding antenatal screening for Group B Strep (GBS), based on screening or treating those at high risk.

The trust is also taking part in a trial that aims to identify a successful way of detecting the presence of this bacteria at the time of labour.

Dr Ewen Cameron, chief executive of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust which runs West Suffolk Hospital, said: “We understand this must be a very difficult time for the family of baby Albie and my heart goes out to them.

"We, as a trust, want to learn from all situations where there are unexpected outcomes in our care.

“As the family should rightly expect, we are reviewing Albie’s care.

"It is vital we ensure we fully understand the impacts of the care and service he was provided, and we will work closely with his family throughout this process.”

If you or anyone you know has been affected by these issues, the Group B Strep Support charity offers a free, confidential helpline.

For more information, visit: gbss.org.uk/info-support/support/helpline