A MOTHER whose son survived a deadly illness is on a mission to tell people about the condition.
Looking at little Toby Farey today, you would never believe his life once hung in the balance.
The three-year-old was born with a life-threatening infection - Group B Streptococcus (GBS) - which affects one in 1,000 newborns each year.
Toby spent five weeks in the special baby care unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. But it could have been avoided so easily with a simple test, according to his mum Erika, of Kirkheaton.
She said: "It was very traumatic and we didn't know if he would pull through. The agony of sitting next to your baby day and night watching him not even move or open his eyes is indescribable.
"If I had known I was a carrier I would have been given antibiotics during labour. It is so easy to treat if you know about it."
Toby developed septicaemia and pneumonia after being infected by GBS at birth.
Doctors did not know his mum was carrying the bacteria, which is carried by a quarter of all women in the vagina with no symptoms.
Toby had to be kept sedated while he was treated with antibiotics intravenously for 10 days.
His parents faced an agonising wait as he battled for life on a ventilator. Eventually he began to improve and luckily suffered no long-term effects of the illness.
Now Erika, 36, of St Mary's Lane, is campaigning - through the charity GBS Support - to have the screening test made available on the NHS.
She said: "Most women don't know about it until something devastating happens. We were very lucky but it was touch and go.
"I want to try to make more pregnant women aware that this is something they can be screened for.
"In America and most parts of Europe they screen women automatically for it. I think it is scandalous they don't do it here."
She said women could opt to be tested privately by paying about £30.
To mark GBS Awareness Week from September 26 to October 2, Erika was also providing maternity staff at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary with a special information pack about GBS.
To find out more about the condition and how to test for it visit www.gbss.org.uk
* GBS is a bacteria carried by one in three adults in their intestines and a quarter of all women in their vaginas without symptoms.
* It can be passed to newborn babies during delivery, causing septicaemia, pneumonia and even meningitis.
* If pregnant women know they are carriers they can be given antibiotics during labour to prevent it being transferred.
* About 700 UK babies develop the GBS infection each year.
* Almost 100 die from the condition and even more go on to suffer long-term disabilities including blindness.