Bacillus Calmette-Guérin immunisation at birth and morbidity among Danish children: A prospective, randomised, clinical trial

Contemp Clin Trials. 2015 May;42:213-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2015.04.006. Epub 2015 Apr 18.


Background: Studies from low-income countries report positive non-specific effects of early Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation on childhood health and survival. Neonatal immunisation with BCG may prime the immune system and offer partial protection against other infectious and possibly allergic diseases. The potential clinical value of these non-specific effects has not yet been examined in a large randomised trial in high-income countries.

Methods: The Danish Calmette Study is a multicentre randomised clinical trial conducted between October 2012 and November 2015. Within the first 7 days of life, infants were randomly assigned to intra-dermal vaccination with BCG or no intervention. At 3 and 13 months of age structured telephone interviews and clinical examinations of the children were conducted. In a subgroup of children blood samples were drawn and stool samples collected at age 4 days, 3 and 13 months. Thymus index was assessed by ultrasound in a subgroup at randomisation and at 3 months. The primary study outcome is hospitalisation within the first 15 months of life as assessed in Danish health registers. Secondary outcomes include infectious disease hospitalisations, wheezing, eczema, use of prescribed medication, growth, development, thymus index, T- and B-cell subpopulations assessed by flow cytometry, in vitro cytokine responses and specific antibody responses to other vaccines. Adverse reactions were registered.

Discussion: With participation of 4184 families and more than 93% adherence to clinical follow-up at 3 and 13 months, this randomised clinical trial has the potential to create evidence regarding non-specific effects of BCG vaccination in a high-income setting.

Keywords: BCG vaccination; Bacillus Calmette-Guérin; Children; Heterologous immunity; Non-specific effects of vaccines; Randomised clinical trial.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • BCG Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • BCG Vaccine / adverse effects
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Denmark
  • Developed Countries
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Research Design*


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Cytokines