Response of steroid-treated former preterm infants to a single dose of meningococcal C conjugate vaccine

Vaccine. 2006 Apr 12;24(16):3273-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2006.01.027. Epub 2006 Jan 19.


Attenuated antibody responses have been reported in preterm infants who received neonatal dexamethasone treatment. The duration of immunosuppression may extend into later infancy. This study assessed the immune response of former preterm infants to a single meningococcal serogroup C conjugate (MCC) immunisation given after infancy. A cohort of 49 toddlers born at less than 33 weeks' gestation were given an initial dose of MCC vaccine at a median age of 13 months; 11 had received dexamethasone in the neonatal period. Sera obtained 4 weeks post immunisation were analysed for serum bactericidal antibody (SBA) and serogroup C-specific IgG antibody concentrations. Immune responses were compared with those of an historical cohort of 70 term toddlers given a single dose of the same vaccine at age 13 months. An SBA titre of > or =8 was taken to indicate a protective response. Following a single MCC dose, the SBA geometric mean titre (GMT) for former preterm infants was 249 (95% C.I. 111, 558), not significantly different from that of the historical term cohort whose SBA GMT was 141 (95% C.I. 89, 224) (p=0.06). A significantly lower proportion of former preterm infants achieved a protective SBA titre of > or =8 compared with term infants, 37/48 (77%) versus 64/70 (91%), (p=0.03). For steroid-treated and non steroid-treated subgroups, SBA GMTs were 1237 (95% C.I. 250, 6132) and 154 (62, 385), respectively, and numbers achieving an SBA titre of > or =8 were 10/11 (91%) and 27/37 (73%), (p=0.42). Most children born at <33 weeks' gestation mount a protective immune response to a single MCC vaccine dose given at age 13 months, but fewer former preterm infants attain a protective SBA titre of 8 compared with term infants. Previous neonatal dexamethasone treatment does not appear to attenuate immune response after infancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / immunology*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology*
  • Steroids / administration & dosage
  • Steroids / therapeutic use*


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Steroids
  • serogroup C meningococcal conjugate vaccine