Iron deficiency during infancy reduces vaccine efficacy, stu
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About 40 percent of children around the globe suffer from anemia because they do not consume enough iron. Now, studies by ETH researchers show that iron deficiency also reduces the protection provided by vaccinations.

In their first study, researchers aimed to determine the levels of body iron and antibodies against antigens from the administered vaccines in blood samples of 303 Kenyan children followed from birth to age 18 months.

The study showed that more than half the children were already suffering from anemia at the age of 10 weeks, and by 24 weeks, more than 90 percent had low hemoglobin and red blood cell counts. Using statistical analyzes, the researchers were able to show the following: despite several vaccinations, the risk of finding a lack of protective antibodies against diphtheria, pneumococci and other pathogens in the blood of 18-month-olds was more than twice as high in anemic infants compared to those who were not anemic.

In a second study, the researchers administered a powder containing micronutrients to 127 infants slightly over six months old on a daily basis for four months. In 85 of these children, the powder also contained iron; the other 42 children received no iron supplement.

When the children were vaccinated against measles at the age of nine months—as stipulated by the Kenyan vaccination schedule—those children who also received iron as a dietary supplement developed a stronger immune response in two respects: not only did they have more measles antibodies in their blood at the age of 12 months, but their antibodies were also better at recognizing the pathogens.

Therefore, preventing anemia in young children by supplementing the iron in their diet would improve the protection provided by other vaccinations. In turn, this may help to prevent many of the 1.5 million annual deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01313/full
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