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Kiwi Mums-to-be Invited To Participate In Global Research Studies To Potentially Protect Their Newborn Baby From RSV

Kiwi kids are being hit very hard this winter by respiratory virus RSV, a common virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but for very young children, including newborn babies, it can result in a severe illness called bronchiolitis.

While there is no specific way of preventing RSV, a number of research centres around New Zealand are currently involved in global clinical maternal vaccine trials, which could provide young babies protection from the serious infection.

Paediatrician Dr Rebecca Griffith said “RSV is a huge problem worldwide and most children will have been exposed to RSV before the age of two. However, young babies have no immunity and are at a much greater risk of RSV causing serious illness that could lead to hospitalisation. Premature babies are at even higher risk of serious illness with RSV infection.

“The World Health Organisation has identified the development of a maternal RSV vaccine as a key priority to solve this worldwide problem. Maternal vaccination is a very common way of passing immunity onto a newborn baby to protect them against diseases during their first few weeks of life until they are able to be immunised themselves. This is the same concept as giving the whooping cough vaccine to pregnant mothers to provide protection for the newborn baby.

“Although no RSV vaccine is available right now, we know at least 19 different vaccine candidates are being developed globally. While these vaccine candidates are currently unproven, Kiwi women, who are at least 24 weeks pregnant, have the opportunity to participate in the studies investigating effectiveness of a vaccine against RSV for them and their babies,” says Dr Griffith, who is also the lead research investigator for Optimal Clinical Trials.

Mum-to-be, Heidi Wilde is in her last trimester, and is participating in a global clinical study. “When my midwife first told me about the study, I did my own research into the prevalence of RSV which included speaking to my GP. When I discovered how common it was and how it could affect young babies, I decided to sign up to the clinical study.

“As a first-time mum, I want to make sure when my baby is born, he has as much protection as possible against potentially nasty infections like RSV. I realise I might receive a placebo, but it’s nice to know that by being part of a clinical study I might be able to provide my own baby protection and possibly help prevent thousands of babies around the world from getting RSV in the future,” said Ms Wilde.

Optimal Clinical Trials, one of New Zealand’s leading expert private research centres is taking part in global RSV research programmes. Trials are also being undertaken at Middlemore Hospital, Wellington Hospital and Christchurch Hospital.


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