Skip 
Navigation Link

1215 South Walnut Ave.
Demopolis, AL 36732 map map 

Access to Care: 1-800-239-2901

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
U.S. Veterans With Blocked Leg Arteries Seeing Better ResultsBabies' Exposure to Household Cleaning Products Tied to Later Asthma RiskGrowing Up in U.S. 'Stroke Belt' Bad for the Brain Later in LifeStricter Clean Air Laws Could Save Thousands of Lives a Year: Study9/11 Study Shows PTSD Tied to Earlier DeathBedside 'Sitters' May Not Prevent Hospital FallsDoes Race Play a Part in ICU Outcomes?Coronavirus Doesn't Have to Scare You or Your Kids, Psychologists SayFlame Retardants, Pesticides Remain Threat to U.S. Health: StudyVirtual Reality Can Bring Real-Life PainAre Doctors Discarding 'Injured' Kidneys That Might Be Used for Transplant?AHA News: Worried About Dementia? Check This Blood Pressure NumberSleep Disturbances May Trigger MigraineVaccinations Rose After California Curbed ExemptionsGrowing Obesity Rates May Contribute to Climate ChangeHealth Tip: Do's and Don'ts While Waiting for an AmbulanceAHA News: Could Fish Oil Fight Inflammation?How to Prevent Holiday HeadachesU.S. Poison Centers Field More Calls About Psychoactive Substances: StudyInfants May Not Be as Immune to Measles as ThoughtHealth Tip: Do's and Don'ts for Calling 911Health Tip: A Well-Stocked First-Aid KitOpioids Won't Help Arthritis Patients Long-Term: StudyScreening Truckers for Sleep Apnea Cuts Health Insurance CostsDo You Take Biotin Supplements? They Could Affect Your Medical TestsFewer Opioids After Eye Surgery Don't Mean More Post-Op PainReport Finds Americans' Health Is FlaggingWildfire Smoke Threatens Health for Miles AroundIs Head Injury Causing Dementia? MRI Might ShowAHA News: How Does Hormone Therapy Affect Heart Health in Transgender People?Many Women Are Sharing Breast Milk, and That Has Health Experts WorriedLanguage Barriers May Mean Repeat Visits to the HospitalVision Problems Strike More Than 2 Billion GloballyWhat Are the Risks of Pain Relief Alternatives to Opioids?'Alarming' Number of Lupus Patients Use Opioids for Pain: StudyMental Ills May Put Veterans at Higher Odds for Heart TroubleU.S. Minorities' Recent Health Gains May Be SlowingDon't Let Fear of Cancer Keep You From Doctor VisitsOpioid Prescriptions for Eye Surgery Patients SurgeIntense Gaming Can Trigger Irregular Heartbeat, Fainting in Some PlayersCould Profit Be a Factor in Kidney Transplant Decisions?Treatment for Very-Preterm Infants May Lead to Antibiotic ResistanceHurricane Dorian Can Wreak Havoc on Heart HealthMore CT, MRI Scans Being Used, Despite Calls to Cut BackThousands of Kidneys Thrown Away by U.S. Transplant CentersRestless Legs Syndrome Might Raise Risk of Suicide, Self-HarmMixing Marijuana With Opioids May Not Be Good for Mental HealthAHA News: Hurricane Checklist: Batteries, Bottled Water – And A Plan for Heart CareFor Asthmatic Kids in Tough Neighborhoods, Family Is KeySmog Could Land Newborns in Intensive Care
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Cancer
Men's Health
Women's Health

Infants May Not Be as Immune to Measles as Thought

HealthDay News
by By Elizabeth Heubeck
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Nov 21st 2019

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A surprising new study upends the notion that antibodies passed from mother to fetus protect infants from measles for as much as a year.

In fact, infants' immunity wanes much more rapidly than once thought, researchers report in the December issue of Pediatrics. The finding drives home the importance of community-wide immunizations.

"Measles is a serious disease, particularly among infants. Not only do they have a higher risk of infection, but also complications and hospitalizations. They're also most vulnerable to death," said senior study author Shelly Bolotin, a scientist at Public Health Ontario, in Toronto, Canada.

For the study, the researchers tested blood samples from 196 infants under 12 months of age to determine the presence of measles antibodies. The results were unexpected.

In their first month of life, 20% lacked sufficient antibodies to protect against the highly contagious virus, the study found. At 3 months, 92% had antibody levels below the protective threshold. By 6 months, none had antibodies at levels that could protect against measles.

Typically, babies have been presumed to be immune to measles for a year due to their mothers' antibodies.

The authors attributed the quicker-than-expected loss of immunity to the type of protection received in the womb from their mothers.

Measles has been eliminated since 1998 in Canada, where the study took place. As such, mothers in the study probably got their protection from a shot and not through a previous infection, which may produce more antibodies. Nor would the mothers' immunity have been boosted from measles circulating in the community.

"This study really underscores the need to protect infants in the first year of life," Bolotin said.

Measles -- a serious viral disease whose initial symptoms include a rash and fever -- is highly contagious, especially among very young children. Though rare, complications -- including pneumonia, hearing loss and death -- are most common among vulnerable populations, such as infants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2000, the CDC declared measles eradicated in the United States, thanks largely to a nationwide vaccination program. But the disease is present in other countries, and unvaccinated visitors sometimes bring the virus with them. That happened earlier this year, sparking repeated outbreaks that threatened the nation's eradication status.

Among the 1,200-plus cases reported during the 2019 outbreaks, the median age of infected individuals was 6. Median means half were younger, half were older. More than 90% of cases occurred in people who were unvaccinated or whose vaccination status was unknown, according to the CDC.

The worst outbreak happened in New York City when visitors from Israel and Europe -- sites of recent outbreaks -- mingled with Orthodox Jewish communities where many were unvaccinated.

While vaccine refusal is most often rooted in parents' religious beliefs, the recent "anti-vaxxer" trend -- popularized by celebrities in the media -- can also influence parents' decisions regarding vaccines. The World Health Organization recently identified vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health.

Vaccine refusal and hesitancy threaten herd immunity: the community-wide resistance to disease that takes hold when a high proportion of people are vaccinated. Roughly 95% of the population needs to be protected to maintain herd immunity against measles, according to Dr. Sean O'Leary, an expert on pediatric infectious diseases.

"If we maintain a highly vaccinated population, measles outbreaks are not going to be an issue," said O'Leary, an associate professor at University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora. "If measles is not circulating, it would be very rare for a young infant to be exposed to the virus."

That's because herd immunity protects vulnerable individuals, such as infants who are too young to be vaccinated. The CDC recommends babies receive the first of two shots for measles, mumps and rubella starting at 12 months of age.

With the new evidence that immunity from mom wanes sooner than previously thought, why not give babies their shots sooner?

O'Leary explained that even if antibodies from mom are no longer at a protective level, those still present may prevent a live vaccine from working very well. The vaccinated infant might then be unable to ward off measles if exposed, he said.

That's why it's so important that individuals who can get vaccinated against measles, do, experts agree.

"Because it's been eliminated for the better part of two decades, people don't remember measles' devastating effects," said study author Bolotin.

More information

To learn more about measles, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.