A pooled analysis of three randomized controlled trials conducted in Nepal, Mali, and South Africa between 2011 and 2014 found that immunization during pregnancy provided protection against influenza to young infants from birth through 4 months of age. Protection against infant influenza was greatest in the first 2 months of life, with 56% efficacy, and the pooled efficacy of maternal vaccination to prevent infant laboratory-confirmed influenza up to 6 months of age was 35%.
Studies from multiple Western countries have found that pregnant women infected with influenza during the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic were at higher risk of miscarriages, stillbirths, low birthweight and premature deliveries. The risk of fetal death was between 2 and 5.5 times higher in pregnant women with influenza than in pregnant women without influenza. In the UK, the rate of stillbirths was 4.5 times higher and the likelihood of preterm delivery was 4 times greater in influenza-infected pregnant women than non-infected women.
Although this article indicated that influenza vaccination is safely used for the mother and the fetus, conflicting data exists on the effect of vaccination in improving preterm birth rates.
An analysis of data from three studies showed that the rates of severe pneumonia in infants in their first six months of life was 20% lower overall in infants whose mothers received the influenza vaccination during pregnancy than in infants whose mothers had not, and the rates of severe pneumonia was 56% lower during periods when influenza circulation was highest. These findings correspond with evidence that influenza infection predisposes individuals to pneumococcal infection.
The incidence rate of severe pneumonia in the vaccine group compared to the control group was 43% lower in South Africa, 31% lower in Nepal, but not significantly different in Mali.
In a systematic review of qualitative research from low- and middle-income countries, women’s low social status was shown to be a barrier to their children accessing vaccinations. Specific barriers included access to education, income, resource allocation, and autonomous decision-making related to time. The authors suggest that expanding the responsibility for children’s health to both parents (mothers and fathers) may be one important element in removing persistent barriers to immunization often faced by mothers.
A review of evidence for the use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in South Africa showed that children who are HIV positive are at significantly increased risk of pneumococcal disease, and so will benefit the most from vaccination, despite decreased vaccine efficacy in this group compared to healthy children.
This study from South Africa demonstrates significant declines in invasive pneumococcal disease cases caused by bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics. In fact, the rate of infections resistant to two different antibiotics declined nearly twice as much as infections that could be treated with antibiotics.
In a recent review of data from developing countries, researchers found that episodes of diarrhea may predispose undernourished children to pneumonia.
Multiple studies show that
- Diarrhea and pneumonia impair children’s growth and that underlying malnutrition is a major risk factor for these conditions.
- “Episodes of diarrhea may predispose to pneumonia in undernourished children” and
- Immunization against influenza (in mothers) and Streptococcus pneumoniae may improve infant growth. In addition, new studies from Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, and Israel further support the paradigm that malnutrition is a key risk factor for diarrhea and pneumonia.
In a systematic literature review of studies in Africa, it was found that 25% of children who survived pneumococcal or Hib meningitis had neuropsychological deficits.
A systematic literature review analyzing data from 21 African countries revealed that bacterial meningitis is associated with high case fatality and frequent neurophysiological sequelae. Pneumococcal and Hib meningitis contribute to one third of disease related mortality. They also cause clinically evident sequalae in 25% of survivors prior to hospital discharge. The three main causes of bacterial meningitis- Haemophilus influenzae type B; Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) are vaccine preventable, routine use of conjugate vaccines have potential for significant health and economic benefits.
Neuropsychological sequelae includes hearing loss, vision loss, cognitive delay, speech/language disorder, behavioural problems, motor delays/impairment, and seizures.