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MMR prevents child infections

Wednesday February 26th, 2014

Children who have had the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine may enjoy protection from a range of serious infections, researchers say today.

Research in Denmark has shown that vaccinated children enjoy a reduced risk of being admitted to hospital for a range of infectious diseases.

The effects of the vaccine were investigated by Dr Signe Sorup, of the Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues. They looked at figures on 495,987 Danish children born in 1997-2006 and followed up from 11 months to two years of age.

Those who had received the MMR were at a significantly lower risk of hospital admission for any infection, compared for those who had had their previous jabs but not yet received the MMR.

The researchers say that, at a conservative estimate, one infectious disease admission was prevented for every 201 children vaccinated with MMR before 16 months of age. The "liberal" estimate was 93 admissions prevented for every 201 vaccinations.

Results are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today (26 February).

"The coverage with MMR is suboptimal in many high-income countries; in the present study, about 50% of children were not vaccinated on time," the authors write.

"Physicians should encourage parents to have children vaccinated on time with MMR and avoid giving vaccinations out of sequence, because the present study suggests that timely MMR vaccination averted a considerable number of hospital admissions for any infection between ages 16 and 24 months."

Commenting on the study, Dr David Goldblatt of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London, UK, says the study "is a further contribution to the body of literature" on the important issue of the non-specific effects of vaccines on childhood mortality.

Sorup, S. et al. Live Vaccine Against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella and the Risk of Hospital Admissions for Nontargeted Infections. JAMA 26 February 2014 doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.470

Tags: Child Health | Europe | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals

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