Rotavirus infection, illness, and vaccine performance in malnourished children: a review of the literature
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Rotavirus infection, illness, and vaccine performance in malnourished children: a review of the literature

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  • Alternative Title:
    Pediatr Infect Dis J
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    Live, oral rotavirus vaccines are more effective at preventing rotavirus disease in countries with low child mortality compared with high child mortality. Among several hypotheses, poorer protection in malnourished children, who are more prevalent in countries with high child mortality, may partially explain this difference. We conducted a literature search to identify articles with a laboratory-confirmed rotavirus endpoint that evaluated differences by malnutrition status in rotavirus vaccine effectiveness and vaccine efficacy (VE) or the prevalence of rotavirus infection or illness among children <5 years old. We identified 7 analyses from 11 countries published from 2007 to 2019 that stratified rotavirus VE by malnutrition status. Among well-nourished children, VE point estimates ranged from 71% to 84% in observational studies and 26% to 61% in clinical trials. Among malnourished children, they ranged from -28% to 45% in observational studies and -3% to 61% in clinical trials. The relative difference between VE in well-nourished and malnourished children by length-for-age ranged from 37% to 64%, by weight-for-age ranged from 0% to 107%, and by weight-for-height ranged from -65% to 137%. We identified 3 cohort and 6 cross-sectional studies of natural rotavirus infection and illness and none reported that malnourished children were more susceptible to rotavirus infection or illness than well-nourished children. Overall, rotavirus vaccines may offer less protection to children with malnutrition than well-nourished children. As malnourished children often have worse outcomes from diarrhea, high rotavirus vaccine coverage and a better understanding of the performance of oral rotavirus vaccines in this population is important, though our finding that malnourished children may be less susceptible to rotavirus provides important context and information for vaccine evaluation design.
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