WEDNESDAY, April 27, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Antibiotic prescriptions for children aged 6 to 24 months are associated with reduced vaccine-induced immunity, according to a study published online April 27 in Pediatrics.

Timothy J. Chapman, Ph.D., from the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute in New York, and colleagues observed 560 children aged 6 to 24 months in a cohort study from 2006 to 2016 to examine the association between antibiotic use and vaccine-induced immunity. A retrospective unplanned, secondary analysis of medical records was undertaken concurrently regarding antibiotic prescriptions and vaccine antibody measurements.

Among 560 children, 342 had and 218 had not received antibiotic prescriptions. The researchers found that children given antibiotics had lower vaccine-induced antibody levels to several diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) and pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) antigens. At 9 and 12 months of age, a higher frequency of vaccine-induced antibodies below protective levels was seen in children given antibiotics. There was a negative association observed for antibiotic courses over time with vaccine-induced antibody levels. For each antibiotic course the child received, prebooster antibody levels decreased by 5.8, 6.8, 11.3, and 10.4 percent to DTaP, Haemophilus influenzae type b, inactivated polio, and PCV antigens, respectively, while postbooster antibody levels were reduced by 18.1, 21.3, 18.9, and 12.2 percent, respectively.

“We provide new evidence to suggest caution about overprescribing antibiotics because an adverse effect seems to extend to reduction in vaccine responses,” the authors write.

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