Study finds antibiotics may interfere with vital vaccines in infants

A newly published study warns that antibiotic use in infants could interfere with the efficacy of five vital routine vaccines. According to Associated Professor David Lynn of Flinders University, administering antibiotics to infants before the age of 1 could change how their body develops immunity and responds to these routine vaccines.

Infants are vulnerable to various illnesses that can be treated with antibiotics; as a result, many babies are administered antibiotic medication before they turn a year old. This is the same time period when critical vaccines are administered, meaning any interference could have major impacts on vaccination programs.

Vaccines are one of the most important and effective ways to prevent a variety of diseases, clean water being the only thing that's more important. However, the study found that an impaired immune response to five key vaccines could result from antibiotic use. Those vaccines include ones that prevent whooping cough, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and meningitis.

It appears gut microbiome plays an important role in how effective vaccines are. Antibiotics have a negative effect on gut bacteria, which could explain why the medication has a negative effect on vaccinations. Restoring good gut bacteria after antibiotics may be an important step in making sure vaccines are effective in infants.

Lynn explained, "We have showed that the bacteria in the gut (the microbiome) are important in shaping the strength of the infant immune system. Our findings could have significant implications for vaccination programs globally." The full study is available here.

SOURCE: Flinders University