Parents’ plea over killer bug

Shaheen McQuade gives Zach a hug
Shaheen McQuade gives Zach a hug

A Bellshill couple who lost their 12-day-old son petitioned the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Tuesday) to help others avoid their grief.

Shaheen McQuade and Craig Blackie’s son Zach died last August after he contracted bacterial meningitis, an infection that could have been identified by a simple swab test and treated with antibiotics.

Shaheen said: “To have your baby healthy for 12 days and to think he’ll always be there then wake up every morning without him is unbearable.

“To know it could have been prevented is a million times worse.”

Zach contracted group B strep during labour, but despite a test costing just £11 UK mothers are not tested for it.

Shaheen said: “Why not swab women from 36 weeks or when you go into labour?

“I just want to save other people from the grief because it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever go through in your life.”

Shaheen and Craig’s petition calling for all mothers to be offered a test for strep B attracted 12,000 signatures which they took before the public petitions committee.

Nine months ago, when a similar petition appeared before the committee, it was advised the Scottish Government was awaiting the recommendations of the UK screening committee which is reviewing the current guidelines.

The public petitions committee is chaired by Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Michael McMahon who believes parents have waited long enough.

He said: “Shaheen showed immense courage in sharing her personal story.

“The committee has a long track record in raising the issue of group B strep information and testing with the Scottish Government.

“We are concerned by its lack of urgency in providing a practical response.

“We test for everything nowadays, yet not this, and while we await the review Shaheen and potentially others have suffered tragic loss. This is

“There are approximately 55,000 pregnancies in Scotland every year and introducing this test would cost a maximum of £600,000 which in terms of Government spending is not a huge amount.

“So we will be calling on the Scottish Government to take urgent action on this serious issue.”