12/02/2024 | Press releases

Mum welcomes study looking at vaccine to protect babies from life-threatening infection

A new mum has said she was happy for her and her baby to take part in a research study at Ipswich Hospital looking into a potential vaccine for the life-threatening infection Group B Strep.

Currently anyone expecting a baby in the UK isn’t routinely tested or given a vaccine for Group B Strep. Many of us would test positive, but it only poses a risk for newborn babies or to elderly or very poorly people.

When delivering a baby, it’s possible for a parent-to-be who has Group B Strep to pass it onto their newborn, which could be life-threatening.

Mum holding newborn looking down at baby
Emily Cherrington with baby George. Photo credit: Anna Cunnell Photography

Emily Cherrington was happy to say yes to being part of the iGBS3 study when she had baby George at the end of October last year.

The research study is looking into a potential vaccine, with the aim of finding out what levels of antibody pregnant people need to prevent Group B Strep infection in babies.

Emily, who is also a midwife at Ipswich Hospital and mum to two-year-old Freddie, said: “I was asked if I was happy to be involved, and if George was too – and I said yes. I think it’s important to get involved in research for the future.”

The study involves a small sample of blood taken from the umbilical cord after the baby is born and a small sample of blood taken from babies who have Group B Strep infection.

Mum holding newborn on bed looking at camera
Emily Cherrington with baby George. Photo credit: Anna Cunnell Photography

Emily, 32, added: “If the study helps with developing a vaccine it will be such a positive step for babies, mothers and health workers too.

“As a mum and a midwife if you are positive and pass it onto your baby it can have a big impact and might mean staying in hospital, your baby having antibiotics and being unwell.”

Ipswich Hospital is run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust. The hospital is one of the highest recruiters for the study in the East of England with more than 850 families part of the study so far.

Woman wearing red polo top and glasses looking at camera
Anneka Burch

Anneka Burch is the lead research midwife working on the iGBS3 study at ESNEFT. She said: “We know how serious Group B Strep can be and is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK.

“We’re very pleased we’ve recruited so many families to this study as it will help provide crucial information to help develop a vaccine for Group B Strep.

“We’re very grateful to everyone who has said yes and our maternity staff who have helped collect the samples needed for the trial.”

The study is sponsored by St George’s, University of London with the aim to include 170,000 pregnant people across England, Wales and Scotland.

More information about Group B Strep and the symptoms is available on the NHS website.

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