Study: Delaying Baby’s First Measles Vaccine may Ensure Better Immunity Throughout Childhood

by in Parenting

Child measlesWe recently shared a study in which researchers found that the risks of adverse effects from a measles-containing vaccine could be lessened by ensuring it was given on time. This week, a new study suggests that long-term childhood immunity may actually be better if a measles-containing vaccine is delayed.

“Even three months can make a big difference,” Dr. Gaston De Serres, co-author of the Canadian study, said in the November edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. De Serres and his colleagues came to this conclusion after analyzing data from a 2011 high school measles outbreak in which 725 measles cases were reported.

Though measles are now rare in North America, thanks to the publicly funded and recommended immunizations for children, there have been periodic outbreaks in various parts of both Canada and the United States. For the most part, this is due to the fact that visitors from foreign countries, often ill with the condition, bring measles to this part of the world. However, there are other factors at play, including non-vaccinated or under-vaccinated children (about 16 in Canada) and children whose immunity has weakened over time.

“There is good protection, but this is a disease we try not just to control but to eliminate,” Dr. De Serres told Health & Wellness. “It is a very contagious disease and we need to have the highest proportion of people in society protected as possible.”

To ensure that happens, more research may need to be done, especially since Dr. De Serres and his colleagues found that children who were immunized at the recommended 12 months of age were five times more likely contract measles than those that had been immunized just three months later (at 15 months). In fact, this study brings up a very valid question:

When is the best time to immunize for the optimal effect?

According to Dr. De Serres and his colleagues, maternal antibodies that are still in an infant’s system can actually respond by destroying a vaccine, preventing immunity. Then there’s the fact that, because most mothers were vaccinated from measles as children, they may be passing on some of that immunity to their children. However, not immunizing a child early enough – before the mother’s antibodies wear off – can leave a child susceptible to the highly contagious condition.

It’s a balancing act, De Serres says, and at this time, he doesn’t recommend any changes to the current immunization schedule. However, what they have found should be analyzed further, Kumanan Wilson, Canada Research Chair in Public Health Policy and senior scientist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, told Health & Wellness.

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About the Author

Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done. Find out more about Kate’s books at

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