Measles, chickenpox vaccines okay for preemies

NEW YORK – Infants born extremely preterm mount similar immune responses as those born at term to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and the chickenpox vaccine, a study shows.

“We do these studies because assuming what is right for full-term babies is right for very premature babies sometimes leads us to the wrong decisions,” lead author Dr. Carl T. D’Angio told Reuters Health.

D’Angio of the University of Rochester, New York, and colleagues compared the immune status before and after immunization with MMR and chickenpox vaccines at 15 months in 32 infants.

Sixteen of the infants were born very prematurely at less than 29 weeks’ gestation and the other 16 infants were born at term. Blood was drawn before vaccination and at 3 to 6 weeks thereafter.

The researchers found, as mentioned, that the premature infants responded as well as the full term infants to MMR vaccination and chickenpox vaccination.

“These findings,” concluded D’Angio, “should reassure pediatricians and the families of premature babies that giving the MMR and (chickenpox) shots on time is the best way to protect these children from these diseases.”