Parents of a newborn baby who contracted a potentially deadly illness during childbirth, despite them asking the hospital to test for it, have called for all pregnant women to be screened for the infection.

David-James Moore contracted Group B Streptococcus (GBS), an infection that can cause breathing problems, blood infections and meningitis, at St Helier Hospital, Sutton, when he was born on April 14.

Three days later he was rushed from the family's home in Crowlands Walk, Morden, to the Evalina Children's Hospital in Westminster, where his parents were informed by doctors that they had arrived just in time.

David-James's dad Paul Moore said: "We have been told that another two or three hours and we would have been organising a funeral."

Mums are not routinely tested for GBS, which is often carried by adults without causing illness but can be passed to children during birth, as medical experts deem it "too expensive" and not always reliable.

But David-James' mum Donna Moore claimed she specifically asked a midwife for the test for GBS but was told that, as she had given birth to healthy children before, it would not be necessary.

The family is now urging the NHS to test all mothers for the bacteria, as babies normally catch the illness during birth.

Mr Moore recalled how he first noticed that David-James was unwell two days after he was born, when he refused to feed and began making grunting noises. The baby was taken to hospital the following morning.

After an agonising week of intensive care at Evalina, David-James was eventually allowed home on Sunday - although he will need to return to St Helier Hospital for frequent check ups.

A spokesman for St Helier said: "In line with national guidance issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the trust does not routinely test mothers for Group B Streptococcal infection unless there is a family history or clinical reasons for doing so."

However, Group B Strep Support, a charity campaigning to fight the illness which claims the lives of about 70 babies a year, claimed: "Testing women late in pregnancy - and offering antibiotics through a vein at intervals once labour has started to those whose babies are at higher risk - would prevent 80 per cent or more of all GBS infections in newborn babies."

It is also thought the cost of treating infants with the illness far outweighs the cost of testing women in pregnancy.