Vaccine for Infant Tummy Bug Cuts Hospitalizations
Fewer children admitted for severe diarrhea tied to rotavirus, researchers say
There are some side effects from the vaccine, most of which are mild, Leshem said. These include mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting. In some rare cases a condition called intussusception can occur. Intussusception is a blockage of the bowel that happens in between 1 of every 20,000 to 100,000 children vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Before the rotavirus vaccine was available, rotavirus caused an estimated 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations and 20 to 60 deaths in children under 5 in the United States each year, according the CDC.
In 2010, Leshem noted, 78 percent of children under 1 year old had been vaccinated. "We know these rates are increasing," he added.
For the study, Leshem's team compared the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated children hospitalized for diarrhea before the vaccine was available (2001 to 2006) with the years right after its introduction (2007 to 2011).
The investigators found that among children under 5, as vaccination rates increased hospitalizations decreased. By 2009 to 2010, hospitalizations for rotavirus were reduced 94 percent, and 80 percent in 2010 to 2011. The greatest benefit was seen among 1-year-olds, according to the researchers.
Since the vaccine reduced the amount of rotavirus throughout the population, hospitalizations for unvaccinated kids was also reduced by as much as 77 percent in 2009 to 2010, and by 25 percent in 2010 to 2011, the study authors noted.
An infectious disease specialist who was not involved with the research was not surprised by the study findings.
"There is now proof that the vaccine is effective," said Dr. Marcelo Laufer, of Miami Children's Hospital.
"In our hospital we have almost stopped seeing rotavirus," he said. "It used to be the number one cause of diarrhea in infants."
Although rotavirus has been largely conquered in the United States thanks to vaccination, in developing countries it can be deadly. Laufer said that in developing countries, dehydration caused by rotavirus still kills thousands of infants.