Does the protection that infants in Senegal get from whooping cough vaccine depend on what time of year they are born? According to French researchers, various environmental factors could in fact affect their immune response.
“Not all children enjoy the same benefits from the whooping cough vaccine”, they explain. After spending 18 months monitoring more than 500 children between the ages of 1 and 9 living in five villages of the Podor region of northern Senegal, they have discovered “a strong seasonal influence on the response to whooping cough vaccine”.
For example, children born during the dry season appear to be better immunised than those born at other times of year. Why is this? One possible explanation may relate “to hazards regarding food security in this essentially agricultural region”.
Children born in the winter season suffer greater periods of food shortages at this time of year when food reserves become depleted. Malnutrition can then lead to retarded growth and this in turn can lead to a reduction in the response to antigen vaccines.
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