UVa. Researchers Studying Polio Vaccine's Effectiveness

Jan. 14, 2014

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine are investigating why oral polio vaccines are only about half as effective in developing countries.

The researchers studied children in Bangladesh from birth to one year, observing instances when the vaccine failed.

Their findings suggest that children who had two or more episodes of diarrhea, were malnourished or who were weaned early from breastfeeding were more likely to have a poor response to vaccination.

"Kids who are breastfed longer are exposed longer to mothers' antibodies against various viruses and bacteria," said Caitlin Nayor, a 4th year grad student. "So it'd be logical to think that the longer the kids are breastfed, the less likely they are to actually get sick, or retain the virus in their bodies' long enough to interfere with the OPV vaccine."

The new research points to simple strategies that could help overcome the problem as international efforts try to eradicate polio around the world.

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