In the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, researchers have found that iron deficiency during infancy can reduce the immunity that vaccination provides.
Two clinical studies with children in Kenya published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology showed that iron deficiency is associated with vaccine deficiency.
In its first study, the research group led by Michael Zimmerman from ETH Zurich University in Switzerland worked closely with scientists from Kenya, the UK, the Netherlands and the US.
Their aim was to determine body iron and antibody levels from vaccines administered in the blood samples of 303 Kenyan children, from birth to 18 months after birth.
“In Kenya and other sub-Saharan countries, iron reserves in infants are very low, especially for those anemic mothers born with or at low birth weight,” Zimmerman said.
The study showed that more than half of the children were already suffering from anemia at 10 weeks of age, and by 24 weeks, there was more than 90 percent hemoglobin and red blood cell count.
Using statistical analysis, the team was able to show the following: Despite multiple vaccinations, the risk of a lack of protective antibodies against diphtheria, pneumococci, and other pathogens in the blood of 18-month-old children was more than double in anemic. Compared to infants who were not anemic.
In another study, the research team gave a powder containing micronutrients to 127 infants over six months of age daily for four months.
Of these 85 children, the powder also contained iron; The other 42 children did not receive iron supplements. When children at the age of nine months were vaccinated against measles – those children who also received iron as a dietary supplement developed a strong immune response.
Researchers said that not only did he have more measles antibodies in his blood at 12 months of age, but his antibodies were also better.
The World Health Organization (WHO) specifically recommends breastfeeding infants for the first six months to avoid infection with diseases spread by contaminated water.
For that reason, the research team did not give dietary supplement powder to the children until they were seven months old.
The research team believes that adopting the recommendation would be a good step because supplementing iron in their diet to prevent anemia in young children would improve the safety provided by other immunizations.