Hib backed for premature babies
Hib vaccination is effective in premature babies despite their lower immune response, new research suggests.
Despite vaccination, premature infants had a relative risk of developing the disease of 1.5 but this was not statistically significant, the study in Archives of Disease in Childhood (March) showed.
The prospective study compared blood antibody concentrations and Hib disease rates in 27 premature (under 37 weeks' gestation) and 147 term infants in the UK and Republic of Ireland between 1992 and 2000. The premature babies were immunised at an uncorrected age of two, three and four months.
All infants in the study by the Department of Child Health and St George's Vaccine Institute at St George's Hospital in London were followed up until age five. Median gestational age of premature infants was 34 weeks.
There were 165 reported cases of invasive Hib disease, 18 in premature infants, over the study period.
Antibody concentrations were lower in premature infants than in term infants.
But the researchers concluded: 'Overall, vaccination with Hib conjugates affords a high level of protection to premature babies.'