Preterm Infants May Need a Boost

Contact: Garth Hogan

ghogan@asmusa.org

WASHINGTON, DC – November 30, 2010 – A new study suggests that preterm infants may not be fully protected against invasitve pneumococcal disease under the current United Kingdom immunization schedule. The findings are reported in the November issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

The study, conducted by researchers from Newcastle University, began with a survey of UK neonatal intensive care units. The survey found that preterm infants at increased risk of invasive pneumococcal disease were not being adequately immunized because of a lack of evidance that these infants are protected by the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

 

Preterm babies have significantly less maternally derived antibody than full-term infants. Early effective immunization is therefore especially important to decrease the chances of pneumococcal infection.

 

“Our study found that in addition to a poor response to serotype 6B, perterm infants had a diminished response to serotype 23F, and several infants remained unprotected to at least one serotype following a booster dose of the vaccine,” says Samantha Moss, an author of the report. “These results support the need for a booster dose in the second year of life.”

 

Current vaccination schedules in the UK calls for immunization at 2, 4, and 13 months. Evidence suggests that preterm infants are more likely to remain unprotected following the initial immunization and would therefore benefit from increased monitoring post-primary immunization and, if they are unprotected, to offer them an early booster dose.

 

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Clinical and Vaccine Immunology is a journal published by the American Society for Microbiology. The American Society for Microbiology, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the largest single life science association, with 40,000 members worldwide. Its members work in educational, research, industrial, and government settings on issues such as the environment, the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, laboratory and diagnostic medicine, and food and water safety. The ASM’s mission is to gain a better understanding of basic life processes and to promote the application of this knowledge for improved health and economic and environmental well-being.

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