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Hidden benefits of diarrhoea vaccine

A vaccine for treating a bacterial infection that commonly causes diarrhoea, may help babies grow faster, recent US research into monkeys has shown.

Diarrhoea caused by campylobacter bacteria can be fatal in vulnerable people, such as babies and the elderly. In infants, campylobacter-associated diarrhoea can also result in slow and stunted growth.

A study at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), looked at the effects of HydroVax vaccine, which is used for treating various infectious diseases.

Researchers found that vaccinating pregnant monkeys and their babies (which naturally harbour campylobacter) resulted in the babies being taller than those that had not been vaccinated, relative to their age.

More than half of the babies were also protected against severe diarrhoea, while almost 80% were protected when both mother and baby had been vaccinated.

Professor Mark Slifka at OHSU said: “We need a new tool to prevent bacterial diarrhoea in babies and to enable more children to grow into healthy adults, and this vaccine approach looks very promising.”

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