Children With Obesity Have Lower Immune Response to Vaccinations

The immune response to vaccinations is lower in children who are obese compared with nonobese children, as indicated by lower vaccine titers.

This article is part of MPR‘s coverage of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting, taking place in San Francisco, California. Our staff will report on medical research related to asthma, allergy, and other respiratory conditions, conducted by experts in the field. Check back regularly for more news from AAAAI 2019.

SAN FRANCISCO — The immune response to vaccinations is lower in children who are obese compared with nonobese children, as indicated by lower vaccine titers. This research was presented at the 2019 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting, held February 22-25, 2019.

This study included children between the ages of 8 and 18 years with a complete routine childhood immunization record. Antibody levels to Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae type B, tetanus, and diphtheria, as well as serum hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), were tested using the ELISA method. HbA1c levels and body mass index (BMI) were assigned as continuous variables vs levels of antibodies. Statistical analysis was performed using the Fisher-exact test and Spearman rank correlation.

Of the study sample, 43% (n=69) had BMI ≥95%. BMI was negatively correlated with tetanus, diphtheria, and pneumococcal titers; the most significant of which was the S pneumoniae serotype P3 titer (P=.037). HbA1c had a more significant negative correlation with S pneumoniae serotype P9N (P=.035), P8 (P=.043), P4 (P=.002), P12F (P=.002), P19F (P=.037), H influenzae type B (P=.001), and tetanus (P=.006) titers. Pneumococcal titers were impaired in obese children (7/14 serotype titers <0.2) compared with children who were not obese (P=.014).

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The researchers concluded that “increasing BMI% and HbA1c levels [are] associated with overall lower vaccine titers. Obese children (BMI≥95%) were more likely to have impaired pneumococcal titers when compared to non-obese children (BMI, 25%-94%) in a prospective, population-based cohort study.”

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Huang JY, Kaur BP, Seth D, et al. Can obesity alter the immune response to childhood vaccinations? Presented at: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting 2019; February 22-25, 2019; San Francisco, CA. Abstract 908.