Mark Steinhoff, MD

In tropical regions, influenza circulates for many months of the year, which makes the policy of using influenza vaccine during the flu “season” not feasible. Mark Steinhoff, MD, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, University of Washington Seattle and in Nepal have completed a prospective placebo-controlled trial of year-round influenza immunization in pregnancy. The study, carried out for two separate annual cohorts, had a total of 3,600 women. Detection of the flu viruses occurred during 24 of 36 months of surveillance. When the vaccine matched the circulating influenza viruses, there was a reduction of the flu illness in pregnant mothers by 45% and in their infants by 60%, and the rate of low birth weight infants went down by 15%.

Dr. Steinhoff’s group was one of several groups involved in the evaluation of a new Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine designed for use in pregnancy to protect the newborn infant. The strategy of maternal immunization to prevent infant RSV is likely to be a new approach to reducing severe respiratory illness in infants.

Adekunle Dawodu, MBBS, FRCPCH

Health organizations currently recommend vitamin D supplementation of breastfeeding infants to prevent vitamin D deficiency because of low vitamin D in breast milk. However, the recommendation is not often followed, and does not address vitamin D status of the mothers who also are often vitamin D deficient especially in the Middle Eastern regions. Dr. Adekunle Dawodu, MBBS, FRCPCH, and colleagues at Hamad Medical Corporation in Doha, Qatar, have completed a randomized controlled trial funded by Qatar National Research Fund to evaluate the effect of high-dose (6000 IU/day) maternal vitamin D supplementation alone compared with maternal (600 IU/day) plus infant (400 IU/day) supplementation to prevent vitamin D deficiency in Arab breastfeeding mother-infant dyads. Analysis of the results is in progress. If high-dose maternal supplementation alone is as effective as direct infant supplementation in preventing vitamin D deficiency without any safety issues, maternal supplementation alone could be an important alternative strategy to prevent vitamin D deficiency in breastfeeding mother-infant dyads.

Steven B. Black, MD

The Risk of Narcolepsy following Adjuvanted Pandemic Influenza Vaccine

In this U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded study, Dr. Steven Black, MD, (PI) evaluated the possible association of narcolepsy and adjuvanted 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine in a global collaborative study including Taiwan, Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain. The study did not identify evidence for an increased risk of narcolepsy following adjuvanted vaccines. This finding will inform the use of adjuvants for future epidemics.

Global Vaccine Initiative Pilot Data Linkage Project

This project was a World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored pilot to evaluate the feasibility of multi-national data linkage studies to identify and evaluate vaccine safety concerns. Participating sites included eight sites in Latin America plus sites in Iran, Albania, India, South Africa, Singapore, China and Australia. The collaboration was successful with publications developed both on the methods and the results.

The Effect of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Response

In this re-analysis of data from a clinical trial, researchers found influenza vaccine recipients who were on chronic statin therapy to have up to a 40% reduction in their antibody response to vaccination. A research grant is currently under consideration for a prospective validation study.