For an infant, the flu is more than a passing bug. And researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
are working to help alleviate the danger the flu presents to the young.
The research group, lead by CCH's Division of Global Health
, has received a $6.7 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
to expand a study looking into improved flu prevention methods for rural mothers and their infants the world over.
foundational study, also funded by the Gates Foundation, demonstrates
that flu vaccines protect both women and their infants from catching
This is a pressing health concern in rural parts of the
world, as childbirth often occurs at home, where preventing infection
in vulnerable infants can be a daunting challenge. In this susceptible
state, most childhood deaths occur within the first months of life.
have already shown, with the earlier first randomized trial in an urban
setting, that the influenza vaccine protects both mothers and their
children," says Mark Steinhoff, MD, director of the Division of Global
This first study, Mother's Gift, appeared in the October 9, 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine
follow up study will be conducted in rural parts of Asia, and will
assess the safety and effectiveness of vaccinating pregnant women in
areas where access to medical resources are patchy at best.
new, larger field study will help us demonstrate the full effect of the
flu vaccination in low-resource areas," Steinhoff says.
study stands to act as the impetus to make this preventative measure,
already common in the U.S. and Canada, available to women in developing
Toward that end, the CCH researchers, alongside colleagues from Johns Hopkins University
and the University of Washington
, will spend five years vaccinating 1,500 women in rural Bangladesh and Nepal.
by evidence that vaccinating even one family member, particularly the
mother, bolsters immunity in other family members, the researchers are
hopeful that this advance will bring about a worldwide advance in
"If the flu vaccine has as great an effect in
rural settings as in urban ones, the data will be globally relevant and
useful to countries considering new vaccine policies," Steinhoff says.
Writer: Jonathan DeHart
Source: Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Division of Global Health