Rapid Protective Effects of Early BCG on Neonatal Mortality Among Low Birth Weight Boys: Observations From Randomized Trials

by Sofie Biering-Sørensen, Kristoffer Jarlov Jensen, Ivan Monterio et al.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Vol. 217, Issue 5, 14 February 2018

8 pp. 347 kB

Three randomized trials (RCTs) in low-weight (<2.5 kg) infants have shown that Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine nonspecifically reduces all-cause mortality in the neonatal period. The present analysis found a rapidly occurring protective effect on mortality in boys; the effect was strongest for boys in the first week after receiving BCG, whereas there was little or no effect in the remainder of the neonatal period. This pattern differed significantly from that seen in girls, who had the strongest beneficial effect in weeks 2–4. WHO and other policy makers should take this rapidly occurring effect of BCG into account when designing vaccination schedules. A new vaccine should be evaluated not only for specific protection against tuberculosis but also for its nonspecific effect on neonatal mortality.

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