New mums are taking part in a Ipswich Hospital study for the development of a potential vaccine for a life-threatening infection for newborns.

More than 850 families have been taking part in the new iGBS3 study for the development of a vaccine which may save babies from hearing loss, loss of vision, brain damage, or death as a result of Group B Strep.

Group B Strep is a type of bacteria called streptococcal bacteria which is very common in both men and women, and usually harmless.

While most mums will not realise they carry the bacteria, they may pass it on to their newborn, which can be life-threatening.

Currently, pregnant women are not routinely tested for Group B Strep or given a vaccine, but some research suggests a vaccine could prevent thousands of cases every year, without the need for antibiotics or screening.

Ipswich Star: Anneka Burch, lead research midwife working on the iGBS3 study at ESNEFTAnneka Burch, lead research midwife working on the iGBS3 study at ESNEFT (Image: ESNEFT)

The study's first phase involves taking small samples of blood from the umbilical cord after a baby is born, and small samples from babies who have Group B Strep infection, to find out antibody levels pregnant people need to prevent it.

Mum-of-two Emily Cherrington, a midwife at Ipswich Hospital, took part in the study after giving birth to baby George in October last year.

Ms Cherrington, 32, 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.

"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.”

Anneka Burch, the lead research midwife working on the study at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), 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.