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Antibiotic Use and Vaccine Antibody Levels

Chapman TJ, Pham M, Bajorski P, Pichichero ME. Antibiotic Use and Vaccine Antibody Levels. Pediatrics. 2022 May 1;149(5):e2021052061. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-052061. PMID: 35474546; PMCID: PMC9648114


Background: The majority of children are prescribed antibiotics in the first 2 years of life while vaccine-induced immunity develops. Researchers have suggested a negative association of antibiotic use with vaccine-induced immunity in adults, but data are lacking in children.

Methods: From 2006 to 2016, children aged 6 to 24 months were observed in a cohort study. A retrospective, unplanned secondary analysis of the medical record regarding antibiotic prescriptions and vaccine antibody measurements was undertaken concurrently. Antibody measurements relative to diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP), inactivated polio (IPV), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) vaccines were made.

Results: In total, 560 children were compared (342 with and 218 without antibiotic prescriptions). Vaccine-induced antibody levels to several DTaP and PCV antigens were lower (P < .05) in children given antibiotics. A higher frequency of vaccine-induced antibodies below protective levels in children given antibiotics occurred at 9 and 12 months of age (P < .05). Antibiotic courses over time was negatively associated with vaccine-induced antibody levels. For each antibiotic course the child received, prebooster antibody levels to DTaP antigens were reduced by 5.8%, Hib by 6.8%, IPV by 11.3%, and PCV by 10.4% (all P ≤ .05), and postbooster antibody levels to DTaP antigens were reduced by 18.1%, Hib by 21.3%, IPV by 18.9%, and PCV by 12.2% (all P < .05).

Conclusions: Antibiotic use in children <2 years of age is associated with lower vaccine-induced antibody levels to several vaccines.

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