Children who receive a vaccine to protect them against severe strains of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae are less likely to contract a serious disease, according to a new study.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School studied more than 740 children who lived in 16 diverse communities throughout Massachusetts. Results of the study show 28 percent of the children carried a strain of S. pneumoniae -- a bacterium that causes a person to become resistant to certain antibiotics and is responsible for nearly 80 percent of all serious infections.
More than 30 percent of the children were at least somewhat resistant to penicillin and trimethoprim; more than 20 percent were resistant to erythromycin; and 3 percent were resistant to clindamycin. Children who attended group childcare were four-times more likely to carry S. pneumoniae. Those who had recently used antibiotics or who had respiratory infections were also more likely to carry resistant strains of the bacterium.
Researchers say their study is the first of its kind to test for the bacterium after the introduction of a new vaccine that protects children from the seven most invasive strains of S. pneumoniae. The rate of children who carried an antibiotic resistant strain of the bacterium was the same in children who received the vaccine and in those who did not. However, children who received the vaccine were less likely to carry one of the seven more invasive strains. They also had a lower risk of contracting a serious disease.
Researchers say their study may not reflect the ultimate success of the vaccine because it was conducted only nine months after the vaccine was introduced. Researchers say "The use of this vaccine in combination with recently reported decreases in antibiotic prescribing are two important steps in protecting children from serious infections."