March 23, 2022

In The News: Babies Born to RSV Vaccinated Mothers and Antimicrobial Impact

Citing a study published via PNAS (The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), Medscape reports babies born to mothers who were vaccinated against respiratory syncytial virus while pregnant appear to need fewer antimicrobial prescriptions than babies born to unvaccinated mothers. The conclusion was reached by study authors who had conducted secondary analysis of a double-blind, randomized controlled trial at 87 sites in 11 countries around the world.

For every 100 infants born, maternal RSV vaccination prevented 3.6 courses of antimicrobials in high-income countries (20.2% of all antimicrobial prescribing), and 5.1 courses in low- and middle-income countries (10.9% of all antimicrobial prescribing) during the first three months of the babies’ lives.

The researchers additionally found marked vaccine efficacy (71.3% [95% CI, 28.1 – 88.6%]) against acute otitis media-associated antimicrobial prescription in infants in high-income countries along with their finding that lower respiratory tract infections accounted for 69%–73% of all antimicrobial prescribing prevented by maternal vaccination.

The authors stated that a vaccine against RSV represents one of the best investments to lower the burden of respiratory infections in children while acknowledging the limitations of the study. In a press release regarding the study, they say the research should be viewed as hypothesis generating as the trial was not powered for determination of effects against antimicrobial prescribing. Further related research, they say, should be encouraged.

Medscape approached PIDS member Kathryn Edwards to comment on the story. She said, “These findings are not unexpected because viral infections can trigger bacterial infections such as otitis, and reducing viral infections will reduce bacterial infections. Also, viral infections are often treated with antibiotics because the provider cannot rule out a bacterial infection. If a more effective RSV vaccine can be designed, the impact on reducing antibiotic use will likely be even greater.”

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