A MOTHER has called for tests to be offered to pregnant women after a bacterial infection left her newborn baby fighting for life.

Lianne Whalley’s son George collapsed 20 minutes into his life due to group B streptococcus, an infection contracted from his mother’s birth canal.

Fifty per cent of women carry the bacteria and it can make one in every 1000 newborn babies very ill, but pregnant women are not routinely tested for it.

Now Mrs Whalley, of Helmshore, is urging medical staff to offer pregnant women the chance to be tested, so they can take antibiotics to prevent infection to their child.

And her calls have been supported by national charity Group B Strep Support (GBSS) who said such action could “save lives.”

After being born at Royal Blackburn Hospital in February last year, George spent two weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

He was then transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool where he was found to have a kidney condition which causes high blood pressure.

Mrs Whalley, 36, who also lives in Heather Close, Helmshore, with husband David and daughter Charlotte, 3, said: “Those first few weeks were horrendous.

“We were told he probably wouldn’t make it, which was obviously very traumatising.

“The worst thing was that we didn’t know what the problem was - it was a real rollercoaster.”

When George was discharged after six-and-a-half weeks he needed 13 doses of medicine a day, but now only requires two.

Mrs Whalley, a teacher at Mount Carmel RC High School, said: “We were very lucky because a lot of babies don’t survive.”

Jane Plumb, chief executive of GBSS, added: “GBSS is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in new-born babies in the UK - it’s scandalous that pregnant women are being denied information about it.”

A charity auction to raise money for Ronald McDonald House, Alder Hey’s free living accommodation, will take place at the Sun Dragon Restaurant, in Rising Bridge, at 7.30pm tomorrow night.

Admission costs £15 and includes a two-course meal. There will be a variety of luxury items on offer.