Vaccination can prevent gastro in babies

accreditation
Crying baby from Shutterstock
Crying baby from Shutterstock

The widespread use of a vaccine against a germ that causes gastrointestinal infections in infants and young children has been a resounding success in the United States, a new study suggests.

Most common cause of severe acute gastroenteritis

A team led by Dr. Eyal Leshem of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports a big drop in the number of young children hospitalised with gastroenteritis since routine immunisation against rotavirus was launched in 2006.

"Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe acute gastroenteritis – vomiting and severe diarrhoea – among children across the world," said one expert, Dr. Roya Samuels, a paediatrician at Cohen Children's Hospital of New York in New Hyde Park.

Read: Nausea and vomiting

But two vaccines – Rotateq and Rotatrix – can prevent up to 87 percent of all rotavirus illnesses occurring during a baby's first year, said Samuels, who was not involved in the new study.

In the new research, Leshem's team tracked data from 26 states. They found a steep decline between 2008 and 2012 for hospitalisations for gastroenteritis among children younger than 5 years of age.

Before rotavirus vaccination was implemented, 76 out of every 10,000 children under 5 was hospitalised for gastroenteritis from any cause, the researchers noted. However, after widespread vaccination began, that rate declined by 31 percent in 2008, by 33 percent in 2009, by 48 percent in 2010, and by 55 percent in 2012.

"Herd immunity" probably playing a big role

There were similar rate declines among girls and boys, across all racial/ethnic groups, and in all age groups, the CDC team said.

The largest decreases occurred among children ages 6 months to 23 months, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Before rotavirus vaccination began, the rate of hospitalisation for gastroenteritis directly linked to rotavirus among children younger than 5 years was 16 cases per 10,000 children. However, after vaccination began, rates fell by 70 percent in 2008, 63 percent in 2009, 90 percent in 2010 and 94 percent in 2012.

The authors say that individual babies are protected by the vaccine, of course, but "herd immunity" is probably playing a big role as well. Herd immunity occurs when a child's chance of coming into contact with a germ drops because so many other people are also immune to the bug, and are therefore not passing it on.

Read: Immune response

"The vaccine has truly been amazing if you look at the numbers," said another expert, Dr. Tuvia Marciano. He directs paediatric endoscopy at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York.

"There was data published previously on the effect of the vaccine," Marciano said, "and we know it drastically reduced admissions for kids sick with rotavirus and for kids sick with gastroenteritis." That's great news, he added, since "gastroenteritis and dehydration makes up a large percentage of [paediatric] hospital admissions."

Read more:

Vaccination lowers rotavirus infection in infants

India announces low-cost rotavirus vaccine

Rotavirus vaccine slashes infections in kids

Image: Crying baby from Shutterstock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2106 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
50% - 9838 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
36% - 7158 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 724 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.40
+0.3%
Rand - Pound
19.84
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
16.68
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
+0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+1.0%
Gold
1,775.21
-0.2%
Silver
20.14
-0.7%
Palladium
2,155.12
+0.1%
Platinum
937.43
-0.1%
Brent Crude
95.10
-3.2%
Top 40
64,726
+1.1%
All Share
71,505
+1.1%
Resource 10
65,387
+3.2%
Industrial 25
87,072
+0.1%
Financial 15
16,239
+0.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE