• STV
  • MySTV

Mother takes campaign to parliament after losing baby to strep B

Shaheen McQuade had just 12 days with their son Zach before he died of the infection.

Zach Blackie: Contracted infection during birth.
Zach Blackie: Contracted infection during birth.

A heartbroken mother has been speaking of her determination to increase awareness and testing of Group B Streptococcus after losing her baby boy to the preventable infection.

Shaheen McQuade from Bellshill is taking her campaign to the Scottish Parliament next week in the hope MSPs will back her call for routine screening of pregnant women. The current guidelines are due to be reviewed later this year.

Ms McQuade and father Craig Blackie had just 12 days with their son Zach after he was born last year.

"To have your baby healthy for 12 days and to think 'that's it', you're settled, that's your life from now on, that they're always going to be there, to waking up every morning without them, it's unbearable," she said.

"But to know that it could have been prevented is a million times worse."

Zach died in hospital in August 2015 from bacterial meningitis triggered by group B strep, an infection that Ms McQuade later learned could have been identified by a simple swab test and treated with antibiotics.

She said: "A couple of weeks later, we went back to the hospital to speak to Zach's consultant and he told us that it was group B strep that was passed on during labour. I'd never heard of group b strep, didn't know what it was. "

Unlike many other developed countries, pregnant women in the UK are not routinely offered tests to detect group B strep unless they are thought be at risk.

It is a common bacterium in around a quarter of pregnant women and in most cases their newborns will suffer no ill effects, but around one in every 2000 babies develop an infection. With prompt treatment, seven out of ten recover fully but for one in ten infected babies it can be fatal.

Ms McQuade added: "Their argument is that they can test you at the beginning of your pregnancy and you can have it, but that doesn't mean you'll have it at the end of your pregnancy or vice versa so my question is, why not swab women from 36 weeks or when you go into labour?

"Another reason I'm fighting is that they say that the tests aren't that reliable, so my argument is so why are they not setting aside more funding for more reliable tests?"

The current guidelines are to be reviewed this year by the UK National Screening Committee. The Scottish Government says they will carefully consider change if this independent panel of experts makes any new recommendations.

Ms McQuade has collected more than 12,000 signatures in support of her campaign and will present her petition to the Scottish Parliament next week.

She said: "I just want to prevent other people from going through the grief that we have to because it's the hardest thing, you'll ever go through in your life."

"I just look at his pictures and that gives me the strength. He's the reason that I'm fighting."

For information on strep B visit the group B strep support website at gbss.org.uk

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.