Simon Kariuki of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Kenya in Kenya and Holden Maecker of Stanford University in the U.S. will determine whether probiotics and synbiotics can boost infant immune responses to vaccines. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in young children, with rotavirus a leading culprit. Oral rotavirus vaccines are routinely administered in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) but are only 50% effective compared to 85–98% effectivity in high-income countries. One major cause could be environmental enteric dysfunction (EED), which is pervasive in children in LMIC. Their clinical trial of 600 newborns from western Kenya indicated that administering weekly probiotics and synbiotics (Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria) up to age six months improved gut health and prevented EED-associated inflammation. They will use stored plasma samples and vaccination records to determine the impact of EED and systemic inflammation, as well as pro- and synbiotic effects on rotavirus vaccine efficacy.
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