The Women and Babies Research team is launching a study to look into the presence of bacteria in pregnancy which may be deadly if passed on to infants during birth.
The research is being funded in part by Victoria and Danny Liston, who tragically lost their daughter at birth due to infection.
Director of Women and Babies Research Professor Jonathan Morris said Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis in a newborn’s first week of life.
“Even after extensive preventive screening and treatment of expecting mothers, infectious bacteria can still be passed on to infants during birth.
“It is possible that other infectious agents may be present in the urine in late pregnancy and no studies have researched this. Our study will identify the presence of bacterial infection in late pregnancy and examine the outcomes for the mother and her baby.
“Many babies lives could be saved with a breakthrough in this area,” he said.
Victoria and Danny’s daughter Kiera died shortly after birth from GBS and they have donated to the NORTH Foundation after their experience.
“We had an uneventful pregnancy and did all the screening and tests with no issues or concerning results, and somehow this still happened," said Victoria.
At the routine screening conducted at 36 weeks, Victoria had tested negative. In the minutes that followed Kiera’s birth, doctors noticed her breathing was laboured. Her condition did not improve and ultimately, Kiera succumbed to congenital pneumonia caused by sepsis due to GBS.
"It didn't make any sense. It was, and still is, such a shock," said Danny.
"There needs to be more protocols and processes around routine GBS testing and an effort to educate parents on what the outcomes mean,” said Victoria.
“I had a negative test which, with the current protocols, meant that nothing needed to be done. I didn't realise that a negative test at 36 weeks might still mean I could be a carrier at a later date.
“We believe there needs to be more research conducted on why we choose 36 weeks as the testing point and if it’s possible to administer a test closer to delivery to discover the potential risk and treat accordingly.”